Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Book Review: Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

Author: Belinda Bauer
Publication: Atlantic Monthly Press (August 4, 2015)

Description: Belinda Bauer is a phenomenal voice in British crime fiction, whose work has won the CWA’s Gold Dagger Award for Crime Novel of the Year and garnered rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. Winner of the 2014 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, Rubbernecker is a gripping thriller about a medical student who begins to suspect that something strange is going on in this cadaver lab.

“The dead can’t speak to us,” Professor Madoc had said. But that was a lie. The body Patrick Fort is examining in anatomy class is trying to tell him all kinds of things. But no one hears what he does, and no one understand when he tries to tell them.

Life is already strange enough for Patrick—being a medical student with Asperger’s Syndrome doesn't come without its challenges. And that’s before he is faced with solving a possible murder, especially when no one believes a crime has even taken place. Now he must stay out of danger long enough to unravel the mystery. But as Patrick learns one truth from a dead man, he discovers there have been many other lies closer to home.

A can’t-put-it-down page-turner from one of the finest voices in UK crime, Rubbernecker puts Belinda Bauer firmly on the map of world-class crime writers.

My Thoughts: Patrick Fort tells most of this story. He has Asperger's which makes it difficult for him to communicate because he lacks an understanding of visual clues or idioms. Since his father's death when he was around 8 and a school social worker told him that his father went through a door, Patrick has been trying to understand death and find out where his father went.

After years of experiments with roadkill and the growing disgust of his alcoholic mother, Patrick tries and tries to understand. He gets a chance to move to Cardiff and take part in a class for new medical students which will have them working on dissecting cadavers for 22 weeks. He is their "disability" student. The students' first task is to determine the cause of death. Nothing is obviously wrong with the man they are dissecting. When Patrick discovers a peanut in the airway of a man who had been fed through a tube, he is initially just curious. He sneaks into the office where the records on the cadavers are kept and learns that the cause of death is listed as heart failure. He doesn't believe it and begins to believe that his cadaver was murdered. He also learns his cadaver's name - Sam.

Meanwhile, a second story thread follows patients who are in long-time comas or vegetative states and follows a man named Sam who is beginning to come out of his coma. Sam had been in a car accident and as he comes to consciousness he wonders who the strange woman is who visits him and where his wife and daughter are. He also sees a young doctor end the life of the coma patient who shares his room. Unable to move or speak and being cared for by a nurse who is more interested in making a conquest of the husband of another patient, Sam is helpless to do anything about what he saw.

As Patrick investigates, he comes closer and closer to solving the mystery of Sam's cause of death and also uncovers secrets in his own family. The story was unique because of the perspective of Patrick who sees facts but has trouble figuring out the reasons for actions.

I enjoyed the story and liked how the mystery gradually unfolded.

Favorite Quote:
Patrick stared at his tutor's hands, while bits of puzzle started a slow new circuit in his head. The scarred finger, the fragments of blue latex, the padlocked door -- he wasn't even sure they were bits of the same puzzle. There was so much confusion in Patrick's life that he couldn't assume anything. He tried to calm down; tried to think clearly.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.


  1. I just read another book by this author Snap. I think this one sounds better!

  2. I eat up stories like this. Fabulous cover and interesting title too!


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