Monday, April 8, 2013

Review of Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer (Bantam Press, 2013)

Patrick Fort is a a young man with Asberger's Syndrome who, after the death of his father, becomes obsessed with what happens when a creature dies.  In order to try and understand mortality he leaves his exhausted mother and enrols in an anatomy course at Cardiff University.  There he encounters cadaver number 19.  Along with four other students Patrick’s task is to dissect the body to learn about its constitution and establish the cause of death.  Patrick’s diagnosis is murder, an answer nobody seems to want to hear.  But once Patrick gets a notion he follows it obsessively, regardless of the consequences.

Rubbernecker is a wonderful read - witty and smart, with a nice mix of darkness and light, pathos and humour, and a cleverly worked plot.  The three main strengths of the novel are the characterisation, plot, and prose.  Patrick Fort is a lovely creation - truthful, logical, obsessive and unintentionally abrasive - and the other characters are fully formed: his long suffering mother, the students in his shared house, and the staff and patients at the university hospital, especially Samuel Galan locked inside his comatose body and the selfish, uncaring nurse, Tracy Evans.  The plot is nicely put together, with a couple of very nice twists towards the end of the story.  Adding to the reading experience is the crafting of the narrative and the engaging prose.  There isn’t a word out of place, and the story is all tell and no show.  The novel has the feel of a standalone, but I hope that Bauer is thinking of creating another mystery for Patrick to investigate.  Overall, an excellent piece of literary crime fiction. 

4 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Rob - I like Belinda Bauer's work quite a lot, so it's good to hear that you thought this was well done.

pattinase (abbott) said...

This sounds great. Will look for it here.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Sounds good!

Anonymous said...

Rob, I loved this book! Your review was spot on, there was a nice balance to this book. Thanks so much for the review, I doubt I would have found the book here in the states without you.

Chris Enstad