Fin­ders Keep­ers

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Audiobooks - JOHN M. MURRAY

Belinda Bauer, Dream­scape Me­dia 978-1-5200-4661-7, Au­dio­book $29.99 (9.5 hrs)

Fin­ders Keep­ers, by Belinda Bauer, pits an elu­sive kid­nap­per against a close-knit town. This is an en­gross­ing and at­mo­spheric crime thriller with a com­ing-of-age tale at its core.

In the al­ready trou­bled town of Ship­cott, chil­dren are snatched from their fam­i­lies with only an ac­cusatory note of “You don’t love them” left be­hind. Jonas Holly—a cop on leave af­ter the re­cent mur­der of his wife—finds him­self drawn into the mys­tery, even as the lo­cals shift their sus­pi­cions onto him. The dis­ap­pear­ances mount, and with no clear ev­i­dence, the once idyl­lic town grows ever more claus­tro­pho­bic. It be­comes in­creas­ingly clear that the ab­duc­tor lives and works among them.

The fi­nal book in the Ex­moor Tril­ogy, Fin­ders Keep­ers is an ac­ces­si­ble and en­gag­ing story in its own right. Bauer lov­ingly crafts the vil­lage of Ship­cott and its vil­lagers, with spe­cial at­ten­tion given to the chil­dren. A slow start al­lows ten­sion to build, and at­mo­spheric un­ease slowly sets in as the story reaches a shock­ing crescendo.

Jonas Holly’s de­scent into and out of mad­ness plays a large role, but Steven Lamb’s re­cov­ery from the pre­vi­ous book steals the show. Steven over­comes trauma with­out los­ing his in­no­cence, even while vi­o­lence once again sets off around him.

Nar­ra­tor John Sackville’s crisp Bri­tish ac­cent and sharp com­mand of lo­cal di­alects height­ens the ten­sion of the novel, es­pe­cially with the in­flec­tion he places on cer­tain words and pauses. Sub­tle jokes pop be­cause of this art­ful nar­ra­tive at­ten­tion, while taut mo­ments tighten even more. Dis­tinct voices and flow­ing prose com­ple­ment each other nicely, even within the more vi­o­lent and grue­some events.

Fin­ders Keep­ers starts off with a strange ab­duc­tion and slowly builds to a sat­is­fy­ing, if bit­ter­sweet, end­ing. Flash­backs and sub­tle ex­pla­na­tions lure new read­ers into the se­ries while un­spool­ing a mys­tery that will shock ex­tant fans.

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