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Friday, June 27, 2014

Finders Keepers. Belinda Bauer. Corgi Books 2012

A gripping and enthralling thriller that builds a atmosphere of increasing unease into a savage and climax and a satisfying and unexpected conclusion. A girl is kidnapped from a car and a note saying "You don't love her" is left behind and this is just the start of a number of similar kidnappings that happen in the area. Detective Inspector Reynolds leads the investigation into the kidnappings, he has a older unresolved set of murders in the village of Shipcott and the sole surviving victim PC Jonas Holly to deal with as well. As the kidnappings increase and the pressure increases on everyone the threads from past events start to twist into the present and draw everyone into deeper trouble than they can imagine. The investigation is carefully set up, the very large cast are wonderfully developed and the plot moves with superb menace.
This book is the third of a trilogy and Belinda Bauer uses continuity with deft care to give the bigger story a very satisfying continuation without ever sacrificing the current story as a self contained event. Where needed the necessary details from prior events are supplied in a very natural way that gives the context for the cast.
The cast is one of the astonishing strengths of the book, there is huge and very diverse cast and the narrative focus shifts quickly and seamlessly from one cast member to another. It is never confusing or confounding, each character comes to vivid life and earns their place in the reader's attention without loss to the plot mechanics or of tension in the story. The big cast effortlessly creates the community that the horrifying events are taking place in, the various reactions of those directly, indirectly and investigating the kidnappings are woven together to create a panorama of the crimes. The moving focus in the story allows the subtle and not so subtle impact of the crimes to be traced and to give the assorted victims space to be heard.
Belinda Bauer takes a breath-taking risk with the plot at the centre of the story, a move so outrageous that it should by rights fall into absurdity or just stupidity, due to her astonishing control and the careful set up it is neither of these, it is horribly, plausibly sad instead. The low key approach increases the tension as the situation starts to unravel, it allows those caught up in it to emerge as much more than handy body parts in the service of the plot.
The conclusion is a wonderfully unexpected as the enormous investment in the cast pays off and the final justice is served as it needs to be. This is superb crime writing that takes huge risks that are all entirely justified and provides the readers with something fresh, vital and vividly entertaining.

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