Title: The Beautiful Dead
Author: Belinda Bauer
Publisher: Grove Atlantic
Date of publication: January 3rd 2017
Number of pages: 341
TV crime reporter Eve Singer’s career is flagging, but that starts to change when she covers a spate of bizarre murders—each one committed in public and advertised like an art exhibition. When the killer contacts Eve about her coverage of his crimes, she is suddenly on the inside of the biggest murder investigation of the decade. But as the killer becomes increasingly obsessed with her, Eve realizes there’s a thin line between inside information and becoming an accomplice to murder—possibly her own.
A seamlessly-plotted thriller that will keep readers breathless until the very end, The Beautiful Dead cements Belinda Bauer’s reputation as a master of heart-stopping suspense.
What brought me to this book was its title. I was told departed people looked beautiful because the burden of life had been taken away from them. That is a way of seeing things. Still, the title was poetic and intriguing enough for me to hit the request button before even taking a look at the blurb. Had I done this, I would have realized the author had merged two of my favorite elements in a story. A bad guy killing people, and a journalistic edge.
See, I’m a believer in a stronger and better journalism that what we are getting today. To quote the highly idealistic show The Newsroom “There was a time journalism wasn’t a career, it was a calling.” (Yes, this was from memory, I could go on for two hours but I can’t find the right quote on Nancy Drew). Blame Aaron Sorkin and his fabulous but utopian TV show for making me believe the news could find its way back to what it was supposed to be instead of feeding this never-ending viewer morbid curiosity. The Beautiful Dead deals with what it takes to bring images to the screen, and how far you are willing to go to please the audience.
No story was worth telling unless it was funny at the end – however painful it might be along the way.
Eve, the crime journalist and main protagonist of the story, needs to find a way to keep the machine going, his blood-sucking boss happy, and her job, with grisly tales and reports on the despair of human beings. This only had my body temperature rise as I revolted against the system and how we people can’t get enough of polluted news. The writer had me hooked by having Eve in the middle of this system that sucked the life out of her with a precise and frightening style that depicted the constant urgency to be the first on the scene, to get an exclusive, to go away and beyond to win that 1% of the audience that makes the difference for channels.
Nothing sold like murder, and death was how she paid the mortgage.
But the tension was only starting as another POV made its appearance. Darker, more dangerous, with a very special idea of “beautiful” And with Eve on the line, or should I stay on the screen, it did not take long for that disturbed mind to find the perfect plan. Get his most beautiful piece and get Eve her hour of fame, whether she truly wants it or not.
Strangers he repaid with the handsome interest of being immortalized by art.
If this is not enough to give you goosebumps, don’t worry, the characters will make sure you have your dose of action, creepiness and danger. I am leery of POVs that make me dive into a killer’s head as I have issues understanding their motives or thoughts no matter how good the narration. But this time I was grappling with the deepest and darkest ideas, creepiness oozing off the and a disturbing feeling finding its way through my own mind. It’s frightening when you are able to follow such a character’s feelings and actually make sense of them. The writer made an excellent job at making me feel for him. Oh, no love or sympathy, but something different, something empathetic, something that whispered to me ear “go deeper, find what’s hidden inside. Look for the “why”” His game with Eve had me on the edge of my seat and whenever I thought he could not do worse, I was proved otherwise. I won’t underestimate a killer again. I won’t reveal any of his plans but you’re in for a twisted ride. Hold on to your book and “enjoy” the view.
I enjoyed everything about Eve. She was determined to do her job even if doubts riddled her and she hated that mad thirst for bad news and shocking headlines. I felt her struggle against her principles and it made me warm to her so quickly I was enthralled with her within a chapter. While Eve the journalist was a fantastic protagonist to share this story with, Eve the daughter, Eve the young woman also deeply moved me. There are things in her life she keeps secrets and juggling a killer, a sick father, and a mad job without losing your edge is not a walk in the park.
Apparently, men grew wiser with every grey hair, while women just grew invisible.
Despite all of dark and twisted of this book, there is a certain light, a feeling that you are not alone even it feels like it. Be it a neighbor or a work partner. I loved that the focus was on everything because life is about juggling it all at the same time. For most of us, it’s work, kids, laundry. For Eve it’s dementia, news reports, cold coffee with a colleague and getting friendly with the right people to get the right info. Until the bad encounter that changes everything. Several scenes gave me the heebie-jeebies. Now I know, I get scared easily, but the writing grasps you and envelops you into this foggy and creepy atmosphere until you suffocate and find yourself so immersed into the story that you feel every word on your skin.
The Beautiful Dead was my first book from the author and I’m looking forward to reading more!
I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.