Given that I simply didn’t get round to writing a review of last month’s U3A Book Group book, I’m delighted today to share my review of this month’s choice, Snap by Belinda Bauer, especially because I’ve been wanting to read Snap for ages.
Published by Penguin on 23rd August 2018, Snap is available for purchase through the links here.
SNAP DECISIONS CAN BE DANGEROUS . . .
On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she’d said. I won’t be long.
But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.
Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother. . .
My Review of Snap
Jack wants answers about his mother’s murder.
I’ve seen mixed reviews about Snap, and I would agree that grumpy detectives with a chip on their shoulder like Marvel are very prevalent in crime fiction and that I did have to suspend my disbelief at the neatness of some of the plotting, but I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed Snap nonetheless.
There’s a cracking pace to Snap, partly achieved by the short snappy (forgive the pun) chapters so that I thought I’d just read one more, and then another, devouring the narrative very quickly because I found it highly entertaining. Even at sentence level the writing is pared down, brisk and sharp with naturalistic dialogue that drives the story on so that reading it becomes absolutely addictive.
I especially enjoyed the injection of dark humour, the way my pulse increased on occasion and the touching moments that illustrate just how it isn’t only the victim of a murder who is affected by the event. Whilst I guessed some aspects of the story, there were also some surprises that made me exclaim aloud so that Snap is a compelling read.
With the odd exception I can’t reveal for fear of spoiling the book for others, I enjoyed meeting all the characters in Snap, but it was Jack who held my attention most. His desperate desire to hold his dysfunctional family together is poignant, and unfortunately all too possible for some youngsters in today’s society and he reminded me of students I have taught in the past. I found his sense of honour amongst thieves, alongside Louis, far more acceptable than some of Marvel’s behaviour and tactics. Snap illustrates that life isn’t necessarily straightforward and that morality can have very blurred edges.
Indeed, it is the exploration of moral and legal right and wrong, of whether the end justifies the means that I found so intriguing about Snap. Reading the book made me think, and it was intriguing how Belinda Bauer made me empathise more with the criminals than the police. I was also made quite uncomfortable about how disinterested we can be about other people’s lives and how they can be living lives of deep awfulness but we choose not to get involved, not to notice or offer help. Add in themes of family, loyalty, manipulation, loss and grief and even mental health and Snap can actually be read on a deeper level than just as a really good crime thriller.
Snap is a fast-paced, exciting read that I very much enjoyed. It’s sheer escapism and I found it a brilliant distraction from the real world.
About Belinda Bauer
Belinda Bauer grew up in England and South Africa and now lives in Wales. She worked as a journalist and a screenwriter before finally writing a book to appease her nagging mother. With her debut, Blacklands, Belinda was awarded the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year. She went on to win the CWA Dagger in the Library for her body of work in 2013. Her fourth novel Rubbernecker was voted 2014 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. In 2018 her eighth novel, Snap, was longlisted for the Man Booker prize. Her books have been translated into 21 languages. She has also written the thriller High Rollers under the pen-name Jack Bowman.