Monday, 5 March 2018

Book Review: SNAP by Belinda Bauer

Title: Snap
Author: Belinda Bauer
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Read: February 2018
Expected publication: 3 July 2018

"It was a spectacular day for murder."

Book Description:

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 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, mum-to-be Catherine wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note that says: I could have killed you.

Meanwhile 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.

But the truth can be a dangerous thing . . .

My musings:

I know I should wait with this review until a bit closer to the publishing date, but I cannot possibly contain my excitement for that long. This book was amazing!

In Snap, Belinda Bauer has created one of the most terrifying opening chapters ever. And she does so without gore or shock factors, but simply by messing with the mind of the reader. Three abandoned children are waiting on the edge of a motorway in a hot, broken down car for their mother to return. An hour passes. They cannot wait any longer. Hot, thirsty and scared, they start to walk down the road to go looking for her ... And so it begins. Bauer is the queen of small, chilly details. You can hear the buzzing of small insects and the crunch of gravel underfoot, smell the cloying scent of decaying roadkill, feel the trickle of a bead of sweat down young Jack’s neck as he carries his small sister Merry on his back. See the dangling telephone receiver on the side of the road as an ominous harbinger of dread. The whole scene sent goosebumps down my spine!

So, irretrievably sucked into the story I knew I could write off my day as this was one book I would not be able to tear myself away from. Bauer writes with a dry sense of humour vacillating between tongue-in-cheek and outright sarcasm that really appealed to me, and I laughed out loud many times as she comments wryly on her characters’ characteristics. There is the jungle of Marvel’s nose hairs, or the plucky, pregnant Catherine, who muses about the loss of her sexuality to her huge belly and bravely fights off midnight intruders on her own.

She crept on to the landing and picked up the vase from the bookshelf. It was chunky Swedish glass and she’d never liked it. Throwing it at an intruder would kill two birds with one stone.

Small, clever observations strewn into the story like lollies for the observant watcher, bringing the characters to life. I couldn’t get enough of them!

Besides, who would not be touched by the characters of three orphaned children, who have lost their mother to a cold blooded killer and their father to grief? Whilst the story tugged on my heartstrings, I could not have predicted where it would lead, and how devious Bauer’s mind works, creating spine chilling situations in the seemingly mundane.

Without giving anything away, Snap is undoubtedly one of the cleverest thrillers I have read in a long time, and stands out from the fray in its original premise, writing style and characters. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something clever and different, you won’t be disappointed! 

Thank you to Edelweiss and Atlantic Monthly Press for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

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