Eve Singer is a TV crime reporter, in other words she operates in a world where she not only deals with the nasty side of humanity in her reporting but she also contends with knowing that her time on the screen is limited, it will only hold up if she continues to be successful, and keep her looks. Of course as her job means that she is the person who intrudes on the grief-stricken at their most raw, sympathy for her plight may not be overwhelming. However the public face of Eve Springer isn’t the same as behind closed doors; there she cares for her father who suffers with dementia, juggling carers and confusion.
Many crime readers have tired of the serial killer motif which you could say has been done to death (pun intended) but although The Beautiful Dead does have a serial killer, and one with a particularly warped motive, this book under the skilled pen of Belinda Bauer doesn’t actually resemble those except in the most superficial way. Admittedly this book opens with a particularly gory murder scene, although even this has a welcome edge of humour to fend off any nausea, but as the killer has fixated on Eve Springer, the focus is slightly to the side of the mounting pile of bodies and struggling police investigation and firmly directed at the reporter.
With Eve firmly on centre stage with only her photographer Joe to depend on, when the killer makes direct contact she is caught between wanting to fulfil the investigative part of her role and thereby securing her job, and maybe getting one with more long-term prospects and doing the right thing by turning any possible clues over to the police and letting them do their job. I like a book where there are moral judgements to be made, and only time will tell if Eve has made the right call…
That’s not to say the killer doesn’t have a lead part to play too; they do and right from the off we are given a sense of who they are, what their motivation might be although the author stops short of giving us an idea who is next on the ‘hit list’ it is clear that the killer wants Eve’s attention and so the crimes are designed for maximum impact. Taking that as a key motivator means that this is not a serial killer with an obvious pattern, no these kills are inventive designed to be noticed by Eve rather than the police. There was one point when I gasped out aloud, I was so shocked by what I’d just read. The writing is so vivid that you simply can’t help but conjure up the scenes, even if at times you’d rather not!
I have enjoyed each and every one of this author’s books and applaud her for coming up with a different ‘feel’ to each one. This book is laced with humour of the laugh out loud type at times; disconcerting when on the next page there is another body or another terrifying phone call to contend with, but a welcome relief nonetheless. Belinda Bauer is one of the most talented writers around and once again she proves her credentials as a ‘clever’ writer in The Beautiful Dead. I was in no doubt when reading this book that every word had been carefully placed for a reason, no room for downtime with a bit of waffle during this read, this is one of those reads that despite being desperate to find out how it would end, I didn’t want to race through the pages, I couldn’t, for fear of missing something very important.
I’d urge all lovers of crime fiction to try this with one warning for those of an aversion to graphic deaths because while it never felt gratuitous within the context of the story, I can see that this won’t be to everyone’s tastes.
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from the publishers Grove Atlantic of The Beautiful Dead which was published on 17 November 2016. This review is my unbiased thanks to them, and of course Belinda Bauer for thoroughly entertaining me with this gripping thriller.
Other Books by Belinda Bauer