Patrick Fort is the main character in the thriller novel Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer.
Author Belinda Bauer decided to go with a character with little to no empathy to deviate from the main characters from her first books, which are all very emotional and hyperempathetic.
Patrick Fort lives in the small town Brecon (Wales) with his parents Sarah and Matt. As a child, he was bullied at school. He had a close bond with his dad, who was more patient with his autistic struggles than his mother. His dad took him to horse races, where he got his first experience of death in the form of an injured race horse who had to be put down. His dad is killed in a hit-and-run, which leads him to search for what happens when people die. His mother contemplated suicide by jumping off a nearby cliff and blames Patrick for his father's death, but she does not go through with it. Patrick keeps watching horse-races and keeps track of the names of horses who die, collects pictures of dead people, brings home dead animals, and this all worries his mom greatly. Patrick eventually goes on to study anatomy in Cardiff. In his dissection class, he discovers a peanut in the corpse (Samuel Galen) he's dissecting, despite the person having been tube-fed, which leads him to believe that it did not die of natural cause.
He tries to get to the bottom of this, and goes to visit the corpse's daughter (Alexandra "Lexi" Galen) to get more information. He learns that she's allergic to peanuts, and her father was too, and he concludes that the corpse was murdered. In his research, he breaks into the anatomy lab twice and ends up expelled. He keeps up his search nonetheless and enlists classmate Meg to take pictures of the corpse. At a class party, he notes that dr. Springer, who also led the anatomy class, has scars on his finger that would indicate he was bitten while committing the murder. Patrick wants to get to the anatomy lab again to investigate further, but Springer tries to kill him by hitting him with his car. Still, Patrick makes it to the anatomy lab and takes with him the head of the corpse so that Springer can't get rid of it. Patrick is arrested for murder the next day because he kept the head in the fridge he shares with his roommates, and although the police initially suspect Patrick, further investigations lead Springer to confess to the murder.
When he gets back home, he discovers a suicide note from his mom. In the shed, which she had tried to burn down, he discovers their old car, which is damaged in ways that indicate it had hit a person. He goes to search his mom back at the cliff where she had previously indicated she wanted to kill herself. They talk about death and the car in the shed, and his mother confesses that she was the one who hit is dad, although she was actually trying to hit Patrick. They reconcile, and things get better from there. Patrick takes a job as a dishwasher at a bar, which he is so good at that he's an instant hit with the bar's other staff, and he keeps in contact with Meg.
The story is told from a third person limited narrator, most of which focuses on Patrick and gives insight into his thoughts and experiences. Patrick is confirmed to have Asperger's in the book. Despite also excelling at biology, he is only admitted to university because of a disability quotum.
Patrick is rather literal-minded, which causes strain in his relationships with other characters, including his mother.
He has a fixation on cleanliness, which manifests in a variety of ways: he immediately cleans up after his classmates during dissections and after his roommates at his student home, and he often cleans to calm himself down.
He is sensitive to noise and crowds.
- Rubbernecker on Goodreads