Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

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Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Madeline Wheatley
Reviewed by Madeline Wheatley
Summary: Rubbernecker is a gripping murder mystery with two very unusual narrators: a coma patient and a student with Asperger’s syndrome.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Black Swan
ISBN: 9780552779494

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Anatomy students at Cardiff University have to work out the correct cause of death of bodies they dissect as part of their studies. This creates a problem for student Patrick Fort when he becomes increasingly convinced that his subject has been murdered.

Patrick has quite enough problems without this dilemma. He has Asperger’s syndrome, which severely limits his emotional response to situations and makes it difficult for him to interpret other people’s behaviour. He also has an obsession with death linked to witnessing a fatal accident at an early age. This could make for quite an unsympathetic character, but Bauer’s creation is a likeable one, presenting Patrick as a vulnerable young man trying to find his way in a confusing world.

Patrick’s difficulties in communicating are small fry compared to the situation faced by the book’s other main character. Sam Galen is in a coma. As his condition progresses he can hear and see what is happening around him, but cannot speak or communicate in any way. His situation is vividly drawn and leads the reader to the most terrifying character in the book. Coma ward nurse Tracy, whose casual indifference to her patients embodies everyone’s worst fears of what could go wrong with their care in hospital. Sam, a former teacher, has great respect for the majority of the hard-working hospital staff, but this is his chilling assessment of Tracy:

She cares – but only when the doctors are around. When they’re not she’s lazy and slack……I see her. I know her. At school, we had half a dozen Tracys every year – loud, orange, stupid. Flirts and bullies….Then they were just a minor irritation. Now a Tracy holds my life in her hands.

The intertwining of events around these three characters lies at the heart of the book. The narrative moves between them and things do not pan out as you might at first expect. Patrick and Sam are both interesting, fragile characters while Tracy is such a nightmare that you will want to know what happens to all of them. The story is a compelling read, fast paced, full of twists and with a healthy dose of black humour easing the more macabre developments. I had not read any of Belinda Bauer’s previous books but will certainly be looking out for them now.

Thank you to the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If you enjoyed this book you might also like Finders Keepers by Belinda Bauer

Or try The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon which has a boy with Asperger’s as its central character.

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Buy Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer at


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