Rubbernecker, a Tour de Force

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Belinda Bauer’s Rubbernecker, published in 2013, is one of the best mystery/thrillers I’ve read in a long time. I can only agree with some of the cover blurbs, “Contains one of the most startling plots in contemporary crime fiction”, and “This could be the most astonishing whodunnit you are ever likely to read.”

What makes her plot so remarkable is that the story is told from the points of view of not one but two unlikely protagonists.  One of them is a slowly awakening patient lying in a hospital bed in a coma who realizes that one of the doctors has murdered the man in the next bed.  The other is an autistic young man who is obsessive about making his surroundings neat and orderly and providing reasons and explanations for any loose ends.

Bauer manages to make both of these voices convincing, and it’s especially interesting that the two main characters, who in life never meet, complement each other.  The coma patient understands what he has seen but is completely unable to do anything about it, while nothing can stop the autistic young man who is trying to figure things out.  He ignores censure and ridicule, which he doesn’t understand, and even attempted murder, which he does understand, because solving the problem and creating order is an obsession.

I have only one complaint about this book; between the grim and graphic descriptions of life as a coma patient and the dissection of cadavers, it’s literally impossible to read this book while eating.

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