Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My advance reading copy kindly provided by Net Galley.
I'm very glad Belinda Bauer has written this as a standalone novel, as although her first 3 books were excellent I was beginning to despair at just how many unfortunate events could befall one small village and an even smaller group of people.
This is an unusual and quite quirky look at the world of anatomical dissection so if you're the slightest bit squeamish its probably not for you! The hero Patrick, is a young man with Aspergers syndrome, sparking inevitable comparisons with "the curious incident of the dog in the night time"
Losing his father to a tragic and sudden accident when he was younger has created a deep need to understand the whys and wherefores of death and sets his mind on studying anatomy to further his knowledge of the frailty of the human body and satisfy his curiosity about death. His fellow anatomy students often have difficulty understanding Patricks motives, yet despite his inability to relate to his mother, once he is away from home and living in student digs he begins to develop tentative friendships and gradually to gain insights into why people do and say things he previously didn't understand.
Alongside his story run several other storylines, the patients and nurses in a coma ward play a big part and a mystery is uncovered by Patrick, which many people are reluctant to even listen to, the quirks of his condition creating difficulties for his credibility and giving rise to some unlikely humour. This is in fact a wryly humorous book throughout, although much of it is very dark.
The characters, many of whom are somewhat larger than life are all nevertheless very credible and real. The storyline twists and turns yet all ties up neatly at the end. It's a very enjoyable thriller and nicely unusual enough to lift it out of the run of the mill and be something a little special. Read it, shudder a little, laugh now and again and be entertained throughout.