Bauer, Belinda - 'Darkside'
DARKSIDE is Belinda Bauer's second novel. Set in the Exmoor village of Shipcott five years after her first book BLACKLANDS. Stephen Lamb (the 11-year-old hero of the first book) is now the village paperboy.
When Margaret Priddy (an elderly disabled resident) is found murdered in her bed, Jonas Holly the village policeman is shocked that such a crime could have been committed in his village. When DCI Marvel and his team arrive from Taunton, Jonas is sidelined in the enquiry. The DCI and his team don't want to discuss the local knowledge that Jonas has and Marvel seems to be intent on belittling him.
When Jonas discovers the body of Yvonne Marsh (the mentally disturbed mother of a friend of Jonas's) in the river, Jonas is concerned that someone is attacking women unable to defend themselves. As his wife Lucy is suffering from MS, Jonas is concerned that she will be next. If the detective from Taunton can't solve the case them Jonas will.
Jonas starts to find notes blaming him for the deaths and taunting him to solve the murders before anyone else dies. Jonas now had to look at the locals (the people he grew up with) in a different light - who is sending these notes? The notes show that whoever is taunting him is watching his every move – how could someone see what he was doing when he couldn't see who it was?
The detectives seem to be getting nowhere and start to blame Jonas when samples taken from the victims contain his hair and fibres from his uniform. Of course there would be evidence, he was in the room with Margaret Priddy with the doctor and he had removed Yvonne Marsh's body from the river. Can't these detectives solve this case before anyone else dies, can they not see that blaming him for some fibres is wasting time and could lead to more people dying?
The pressure is now on Jonas to solve the deaths. Will he solve the mystery of the notes, will he find out who was sending them, will he find the killer before any more people are murdered and more importantly, can he protect Lucy?
Like her first book, Belinda Bauer has created a central character who is different from the norm but someone that you can connect with. Jonas is a good village policeman who is sure that he has more to give if only the detectives would listen. Given the quality of the writing and the plot-line, I look forward to the third book to find who Belinda Bauer makes her next main character.
Read another review of DARKSIDE.
Paul Blackburn, Scotland