On Exmoor children are disappearing – a crime novel where fear and tension affect a community

In January last year I read Blacklands by Belinda Bauer (you can read my review of that book here) which at the time I assumed was a standalone crime novel as is the other book of hers that I have read (see here). In fact, it transpires that Finders Keepers is the third in that series. I was glad that I had read the first one and at times I really wished that I had read the second because there are references to what happened that assume that the reader knows the full story. In the end I didn’t find that it seriously impaired my understanding of the story but I would advise anyone to read the three books in order.

Finders Keepers is set on Exmoor and features the sudden disappearance of young children in the area. This affects the whole community who are involved in searching for them and especially Stephen who was himself nearly the victim of a serial killer in the past and PC Jonas Holly who was targeted by a killer and whose wife has died. Both these characters have the scars from their previous experiences – in one case literally. The police investigate but seem unable to turn up much in the way of clues whilst the families mourn in the own ways and the tension rises. When Stephen and Jonas also disappear people jump to conclusions which seem to be backed up when a body is found.

This is a book where you have to build up the story from lots of points of view, especially that of the kidnapper. Most of the characters don’t trust the others and also have an erroneous opinion about what others are thinking and their motives. No one has the whole story. Even when the reader realises what is going on they have no idea what is going to happen next because neither do the characters.

This is a book full of tension where nearly everyone is afraid of something – the kidnapping, what other people think, loss, the future and failure. These characters are very believable, often self-deluded and frequently unaware of what is happening around them. There are no heroes in this story but only people doing the best that they can in the situation that faces them.

I recommend this author. I think that she writes clever books which are definitely not written to a template. She draws you into the situation and then shows you the true picture a little at a time while you share the discoveries with characters who are really affected by what is happening. I will now try and track down the volume of the trilogy that I haven’t read to complete the story for me.

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