But her twelve-year-old grandson Steven is determined to heal the cracks that gape between his nan, his mother, his brother, and himself. Steven desperately wants to bring his family closure, and if that means personally finding his uncle’s corpse, he’ll do it.
Spending his spare time digging holes all over the moor in the hope of turning up a body is a long shot, but at least it gives his life purpose.
Then at school, when the lesson turns to letter writing, Steven has a flash of inspiration . . . Careful to hide his identity, he secretly pens a letter to Avery in jail asking for help in finding the body of "W.P."—William "Billy" Peters.
So begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game.
Just as Steven tries to use Avery to pinpoint the gravesite, so Avery misdirects and teases his mysterious correspondent in order to relive his heinous crimes. And when Avery finally realizes that the letters he’s receiving are from a twelve-year-old boy, suddenly his life has purpose too.
Although his is far more dangerous . . .
Blacklands is a taut and chillingly brilliant debut that signals the arrival of a bright new voice in psychological suspense.
Reading Group Guide
Steven Lamb is on a mission: to find the buried body of his uncle Billy, one of several children murdered nineteen years ago. Steven is certain that finding the remains of his uncle is the key to healing the wounds in his severely fragmented family and easing the tension between his mother and his nan. After three years of luckless digging, he turns to the one person who can help his cause—Billy’s suspected killer, the imprisoned Arnold Avery. What begins as a cryptic correspondence between two strangers quickly turns into an enthralling game of cat and mouse, as Avery realizes that the person asking him for clues is the object of his greatest desire: a child.
With thrilling and heartfelt turns, Belinda Bauer crafts a taut novel of suspense that looks closely at what happens when the cloud of tragedy hangs over a family—and how far a young boy is willing to go to try to fix everything.
TOPICS AND QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. How does the earth play into the story’s narrative? C see more