Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Facts Of Life And Death by Belinda Bauer

Ruby Trick is ten years old and lives in a small town on the Cornish coast with her mother and father.  Her concerns are those of a child; the tension between her mother and the father she loves without reason, the bullying she gets at school for being poor and overweight and the scary woods and deserted house close to hers that provide plenty of fodder for nightmares.  But overall Ruby is a happy child.  With her mother working long hours and her father without a job, she gets to spend lots of time with him.  He is, along with a group of the other village men, fascinated by the American Old West and the group dresses as cowboys and knows everything about Westerns.  Ruby practises her quick draw with branches she finds and longs for the day when she can get a cowgirl outfit of her own.

But the village has concerns of its own.  A man is on the prowl, isolating women and forcing them to strip.  Once he does, he makes them call home and tell their parents or husband that they are about to die.  That's enough for him at first but as the weeks go by, its not enough and he starts to follow through on the threats.  The police, understaffed and without enough resources, aren't making much progress and the Cowboy group decides its up to them to patrol.  Ruby's dad starts to drive around at night, determined to catch the person involved.  Ruby gets to go with him but has to sit in the back whenever they pick up a young woman to give her a safe ride home.

As time goes by, it slowly becomes apparent to Ruby that things are not as easy as she has always found them to be and that her perceptions of the world have not accounted for the pure evil that can be suddenly, right next door to you.  She is forced to grow up quickly and desert her childhood dreams and crushes as she is faced with real evil.

Belinda Bauer is a Welsh writer who has found great success with her writing.  She has won both the Crime Writers Golden Dagger For Best Crime Novel for her debut novel, Badlands, and the CWA award for body of work.  Many consider her the heir to authors like Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters and her ability to slowly weave evil into ordinary lives keeps the reader guessing and cheering for those caught up in things they never expected to see.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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