Steven Lamb digs holes on Exmoor, hoping to lay to rest the ghost of his uncle, who disappeared aged 11 and is assumed to have fallen victim to the serial killer Arnold Avery. Only Steven's Nan is not convinced her son is dead. Steven is determined to heal the widening cracks in his family before it's too late. And if that means presenting his grandmother with the bones of her murdered son, he'll do it.
So the boy takes the next logical step, carefully crafting a letter to Arnold Avery in prison. And there begins a dangerous game between a desperate child and a bored serial killer. A game that will have more terrifying consequences than Steven could ever imagine.
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Suspense, character, mystery
Bleak but brilliant
This novel is gripping and beautifully told. The characterisations are excellent, and in the case of Steven, heartbreaking. The portrayals of good-hearted Steven growing up in poverty, unnoticed by his tragically damaged family and of Arnold Avery, the cold-blooded serial killer of children, are compelling.
Belinda Bauer shows great promise and this novel is every bit as good as a Ruth Rendell.
Colleen Prendergast was pitch perfect in her narration. Her reading of the novel did not intrude on the story, as is the case with some readers.
The ending was particularly moving.