The Facts of Life and Death by Belinda Bauer

facts of life and death book coverAn All Round Dazzling Thriller – 5 Stars

I feel a bit like I have hit the jackpot. I was first introduced to Belinda Bauer earlier this year in her delightfully odd novel, Rubbernecker . She followed up that effort with this equally delightful offering. Belinda Bauer displays a keen eye for detail and atmosphere and for the plucky, odd and charming child character. It was an all-round great read.

Plot summary

The majority of the story is told through the eyes of 10 year old Ruby Trick. She is a bit overweight, a tad socially awkward and she loves horses, mars bars, and her father. When her town faces a series of murders in which the victims are forced to call home and tell their mothers they are going to die, Ruby knows she has to help her daddy and his “posse” of wannabe cowboys help solve the crime. As the crime and the killer comes into focus she learns about love, family, pain and maturity and it all comes together in one of the most dramatic and exciting finishes I have read in any book all year.

My Thoughts

Like an Artist

The story is wonderfully atmospheric. You feel the dampness of the ocean mists, hear the rustling of the forest leaves and smell the moss covering the rocky ground. As the story is told through the eyes of a 10 year old girl, the author goes to great lengths to explore the world through the vivid colours of youth. The innocence of youth is superimposed on a backdrop that is ultimately violent, disturbed and not at all child friendly.

I enjoyed the contrasts in the story. Ruby was a stark contrast to her best friend, her parents were contrasts of each other, her view of her world and the reality of it were very different and the list goes on. The theme was deftly used throughout the novel with great success. It resulted in a compelling coming of age story intertwined with a mystery.

Yes there are children. Yes there is a coming of age story. No, this is no a book for children. Despite the innocent Ruby, there is lack of innocence in her town. While the reader bears the full brunt of the danger, murder and desperation, Ruby sees it as a chance to investigate with Dad and a chance to do grown up things.  The story is occasionally disturbing and often suspenseful.   Do not read this and think you are getting a “cozy” mystery.  There is enough drama and thrills to cause palpations in the light of heart.

While I often enjoy books with a slow pace, this one stated especially slow. Ultimately, my overall enjoyment of the story and the characters as well as the atmospheric setting led me to give it top honours and to highly recommend this to lovers of Thrillers and Suspense. If anything, hang on to the this book for the ending scenes. I did manage to clue into the killer before the big reveal but it was not a let down and I don’t think it will disappoint you either.

Content Advisories

It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.

Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest

Sex 2

We are told that the victims are forced to strip. That said, there is no descriptions of anatomy or graphic elements. There is some sexual language noted below.

Language 3

Mild obscenities are used in a small amount and handful of f-words appears. The majority of adult language is language that was used was derogatory to women, i.e. whore, slag, bitch. The usage was low to moderate.

Violence 3

There are multiple murder and multiple murder attempts. Realistically, the violence is a backdrop and counterpoint to the character of Ruby. The murders are disturbing in the fact that the women are forced to call their mothers first but they are not graphic. The violence is not pervasive but an ominous presence in the background. There final few scene are tense and filled with potential violence.

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Tim Written by:

Tim is a lawyer, sports fan, parent, husband and book lover. He runs his own legal practice and is the founder of The Literary Lawyer book blog and a contributing writer for Tim loves to share his love of reading by providing reviews to entertain as well as provide information to help you make an informed reading decision.