I am an unabashed fan of Belinda Bauer. Since I first read Rubbernecker (my personal favourite) I have been captivated by her quirky, curious and mildly strange character perspectives. Don’t misunderstand me, she does not write bizarro fiction but she tells stories from interesting, sometimes skewed perspectives. Until this book, each story of hers (that I have read) was told from the perspective of a child or young person. Bauer ups her game in this novel and tells portions of the story from at least 5 points of view. While this serve as both a pro and a con, it works on the whole.
Several months before the opening of the story, the young son of Anna and James Buck goes missing after his father forgets to close the door and young Daniel wanders away. Three months later, James is afraid to go to his own home and Anna is certifiable crazy. The stress has not only damaged Anna’s mind but has left their marriage is shambles. In a effort to find her son, Anna attends a church where a minister claims psychic powers and the ability to connect with the dead. During this trip we are connected with the other set of characters and the parallel storyline. Homicide Detective John Marvel care about two things. Advancing his career and solving the a missing child case that has dogged him and threatened to derail his career. A young girl had gone missing. Her bike was found broken and abandoned. The trail had run cold and left him taking extraordinary methods to drum up new leads. Through a strange series of events, the cases of these two children collide and we are left to wonder if a trail of new evidence has a natural explanation or if there are unseen powers at work.
Many Eyes Through Which to See
Bauer never fails to provide unique perspectives. We see through the eyes of the self centred, angry and driven police detective. Through the eyes of a broken father hoping to salvage a life. Through the eyes of a mother who has suffered a break with reality. We see through the eyes of young girl who has been abducted and we watch her try and understand her situation. The various perspectives provide an interesting and varied experience for the reader. Each point of view is so unique but in many ways driven by similar desires.
While on the whole, these varied perspective work well, it becomes a bit overwhelming at times. On several occasions there are multiple perspective changes within one chapter and the reader is left to juggle and organize the different views. This also results a story that is more disjointed than her previous novels. While it is very well written with an engaging plot, it didn’t have the easy atmospheric flow of her previous novels. Bauer’s amazing sense of place and her ability to create atmosphere has been a trademark. It was lacking in this book. While not detrimental, it is not what I have come to expect.
Bauer has taken a plot that could have easily become gimmicky (psychics and unexplained visions) and created a story that takes your focus away from what could become distracting. While I did not enjoy it as much as her previous two books, Belinda Bauer has produced another winner that will keep you reading late into the night.