‘A chilling and gripping original thriller by a great new talent. You'll want to race through to the scary climax.’ – Grazia
‘Extraordinarily powerful and evocative… will leave you breathless.’ – Daily Mirror
Steven Lamb is 12 when he writes his first letter . . . to a serial killer
Every day after school, whilst his classmates swap football stickers, twelve-year-old Steven digs holes on Exmoor, hoping to find a body. His uncle disappeared aged eleven and is assumed to have fallen victim to the notorious serial killer Arnold Avery - but his body has never been found.
Steven's Nan does not believe her son is dead. She still waits for him to come home, standing bitter guard at the front window while her family fragments around her. Steven is determined to heal the widening cracks between them before it's too late - even if that means presenting his grandmother with the bones of her murdered son.
So Steven takes the next logical step, carefully crafting a letter to Arnold Avery in prison. And there begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game between a desperate child and a bored psychopath . . .
*Belinda Bauer's pulse-pounding new thriller, EXIT, is available to pre-order now*
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Cally has chosen a brave and ambitious novel inspired by the Moors murders. In her debut, Belinda Bauer handles dark subject matter with the expertise of a much more experienced writer.
C.L. Taylor: “There’s a cloud hanging over 12-year-old Steven Lamb’s life. Many years before he was born, his 11-year-old uncle Billy went missing – believed killed by serial killer Arnold Avery – but his body was never found. Steven thinks that if he can find his uncle’s body he’ll unite his family and writes to Avery in jail to ask for help. In a tense, dark tale, Steven’s optimistic innocence contrasts beautifully with Avery’s black, twisted soul. Bauer is skilled at adding detail that brings her characters, settings and time frames to life, and a dry humour adds flashes of light that lift the darkness.”
Lisa Jewell: “This was an unexpected gem. The sophisticated game of cat and mouse ends in a terrifying denouement that left me breathless. But it is the character of Steven that gives this book its heart and soul; when a teacher observes that, ‘It’s that boy who smells of mildew,’ you immediately know him, you know his life, you know his pain and you understand just how much finding his dead uncle’s remains would change the course of his life. Beautiful and heart-rending.”
Tammy Cohen: “I’m not sure another writer could have pulled this book off. Getting inside the head of a serial killer in prison for the murder and sexual abuse of children means walking a very precarious tightrope. You need the lightest of touches to counterbalance the dark, weighty subject matter, but you can’t risk trivialising the horror of it all. Bauer’s deft, almost playful, style means she somehow manages to make the parts of the book seen from the viewpoint of Avery bearable, without ever making him sympathetic.”
British author Bauer's solid debut focuses on Steven Lamb, an unhappy 12-year-old boy who lives with his mother, grandmother, and five-year-old brother in Shipcolt, Somerset. Steven's grandmother is still haunted by the disappearance and suspected murder of her 11-year-old son, Billy, 19 years earlier. The authorities assume Billy was killed by pedophile Arnold Avery, who was convicted of six counts of murder and is serving a life sentence in Longmoor prison. Determined to find Billy's remains, Steven has been methodically digging up the moor near his house. Frustrated by his lack of progress, he writes a letter to Avery asking for information, and so begins a cat-and-mouse game that will have dire consequences. Bauer creates believable tension within the Lamb household as her characters shoulder enormous psychological burdens, though a somewhat far-fetched climax dilutes the quiet power of the preceding story.