The Beautiful Dead: Belinda Bauer

Belinda Bauer’s crime novel, The Beautiful Dead begins with the brutal slaying of a young female office worker. We don’t know the name of the killer, but we know that he’s driven by dark impulses that won’t be satisfied with one bloody death. Eve Singer, reporter for iWitness News, on the so-called “meat beat,” is so repulsed by the murder scene that she ends up vomiting in the toilet much to the amusement of rival reporter and overall wanker Guy Smith from News 24/7.  

beautiful-dead

Even though Eve has worked on the crime beat for three years, there’s something particularly horrible about this crime, and even Joe, Eve’s cameraman imagines the horror of the victim’s death:

“Seriously,” he said while he checked the light. “Imagine all those people right there, half an inch away through a pane of glass, Christmas shopping. While some sicko is gutting you like a fish.”

One death soon becomes two, and it’s at that point that Eve is contacted by the serial killer who stages spectacular gory deaths and imagines that he and Eve are somehow in this ‘thing’ together:

We’re in the same line of work, you and I. I need people to die in order to live–and so do you. We’re the same. We want the same things.

Eve already doesn’t like her job and feels morally compromised by certain situations when she begins getting special favours from the killer–without giving too much away–she basically gets a ringside seat. In terms of scooping news stories, this is, of course, a fantastic opportunity, but at the same time, giving the killer a voice and an audience may encourage him. So Eve has a moral dilemma: should she use the exclusives the killer gives her?

Belinda Bauer sets the stage to show us Eve’s desperation. Eve has financial concerns, and she’s in a highly competitive career . If she’s too squeamish to use the killer’s news exclusive ‘gifts,’ others are not, so it’s very easy to justify forming this sort of uneasy partnership with the killer. Also Eve’s job in front of the camera has a very definite shelf life; can she afford to be ethical? But on the other hand if she forms this slimy alliance with a psycho, how will she sleep at night?

There’s a lot of backstory (sometimes too much) to this tale and we see Eve’s problematic home life where she has the burden of her father’s care. We see Eve’s day-to-day job where it’s normal for her to intrude on private lives and speculate on the grief of the families of victims. She’s already engaged in behaviour that most of us would avoid when the serial killer decides to be her ‘friend.’

I really enjoyed Belinda Bauer’s The Shut Eye which took a different path in its exploration of crime and psychics. The Shut Eye was not gory, and so I was not really prepared for the amount of gore in these pages.  Readers are best warned before coming to the book that the deaths occur on the page, so to speak. I really liked the character of forensics officer, Veronica Creed who has “the calm detachment of a psychopath, but none of the comforting iron bars between her and the rest of the world,” and I wished we’d seen more of her. Super-serial killers are not my favourite crime sub-genre, so that added to the gore and a Hollywood-style ending all combined into a less than positive reading experience.

But for an entirely different opinion, go to Cleo’s review here.

Review copy

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8 Comments

Filed under Bauer Belinda, Fiction

8 responses to “The Beautiful Dead: Belinda Bauer

  1. Sorry the gore was a bit off-putting for you in this one and thank you for referencing my review. As you know I really enjoyed this one, the dark humour balanced out the serial killer aspect for me.

  2. I can see why you this one appealed to you less – it was very different from The Shut Eye. I rather like the fact that with Belinda Bauer you never quite know what to expect, each book is so different. I liked the more psychological parts of it and the hurtle towards the finale, but it was not my favourite of hers.

  3. This sounds very good.

    Unfortunately certain forms of graphic violence, even when fictional, have come to disturb me so I would be likely to shy away from some thing like this.

    Serial killer contacting police or reporters is often used as a plot device. With a good author, I think that this can still work however.

  4. Thtis sounds too gory for my taste. I’m surprised you picked it up as it’s a serial kliier story.

  5. how disappointing if she is moving away from psychological elements – that was the aspect I enjoyed most about the two novels I’ve read from her so far.

  6. It’s a great idea for a book (and a film), this grey “relationship” between a killer and a reporter. I’m not sure I could stomach the gore, if it bothered you.

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