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Book DetailsISBN: 9781787630963
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Book Review: Exit by Belinda Bauer - Reviewed by CloggieA (15 Nov 2020)
“Felix Pink hadn’t expected to be a wanted man when he’d left home this morning. He’d expected to go to Abbotsham, oversee a man departing this life with quiet dignity, and be home in time for tea.”
Exit is the sixth stand-alone novel by British journalist, screenwriter and author, Belinda Bauer. At seventy-five, widower Felix Pink is just marking time until he can join Margaret, just waiting until their dog, Mabel departs the world. Happy to be useful in the interim, he has joined the Exiteers, whose remit is to advise the terminally ill on a method of committing suicide, then to just sit there and witness the end of life so they don’t die alone.
Introducing himself as John, Felix has witnessed, always together with a partner, twenty-seven routine deaths and tidied up afterwards, removing the requisite waiver, copy of the will, and the gas canister and face mask. But there’s a hiccough on his twenty-eighth visit: along with his new young partner, “Amanda”, he somehow, accidentally, assists the wrong person out of this life.
Gallantly, Felix assures her that he will take care of everything, take full responsibility. But as the police noisily arrive, Felix, ready to surrender (“He hoped they wouldn’t make him lie on the floor to cuff him. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to get up again, because of his hip”), suddenly remembers Mabel will need feeding, and rushes out the back door. But before he gets around to presenting himself to the police, certain things have him wondering if he hasn’t been set up.
The last thing PC Calvin Bridge was expecting on a call out to a possible suspicious entry on Black Lane at Abbotsham was bodies: one dead one, and one, very much alive and shouting about still being so. The briefcase left at the scene puts the Exiteers under the spotlight, but their director, Geoffrey Skeet, who was clearly not present at the death, steadfastly declines to comment. Despite his reluctance to act as a detective, Calvin diligently follows up clues and irregularities. Will he discover what really happened?
What an excellent crime novel this is! Bauer populates her tale with a wholly believable cast of characters, people just like those we encounter in everyday life; she gives them natural dialogue and their inner monologues are thoroughly entertaining. Several aspects of the plot are blackly funny and both the dialogue and the action produce many laugh-out-loud moments. Deliciously dark, this is brilliant British crime fiction. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Random House UK.
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