Review: Snap by Belinda Bauer

Opening sentence: “It was so hot in the car that the seats smelled as though they were melting.”

My first thought on finishing Snap was that I’m a little baffled as to how it managed to nab itself a prestigious Man Booker Prize nomination. Yes, it is a cracking fast-paced crime thriller – but does it stand head and shoulders above others I’ve read? Not really. (Even the cover looks like so many out there with its thriller-by-numbers design.) Still, let’s celebrate the fact a commercial thriller was included on the 2018 longlist – and that fact is the reason that my (and probably a lot of other people’s) attention was drawn to it.

Jack Bright’s mother is murdered when he is 11 and her killer is never caught. Jack’s dad crumbles after his wife’s death so Jack, only 14, is left to look after his 2 younger sisters. He financially supports them the only way he can: through crime. Burglary to be precise. A random encounter makes him think he’s unearthed a clue to his mother’s killer, so the police get involved and a hunt ensues.

But, and there is a but… despite the unique story, which I did enjoy and felt very different from anything thriller-wise that I’ve read, I couldn’t help having a niggling feeling throughout that the plot relied on one too many coincidences in order to make it work. My other bugbear was underdeveloped characters that had the potential to be really interesting mixed with one too many cliched characters: DCI Marvel, leading the investigation, was your classic old-school cop that we’ve seen so many times before – he treats women as second class citizens, is generally rude and has a hard time obeying the rules. He is partnered with the – yep – play it by the rules policeman, so much personality clashing ensues. To balance that, Snap had its good points too: Snappy (sorry, I had to), short chapters meant you literally HAD to keep turning those pages and there wasn’t a dull moment in this clever little crime tale. BUT I finished the read with a few too many unanswered questions and just didn’t feel satisfied the way you should at the end of a great thriller. I think my expectations were too high, and Snap fell a little short.

When I posted about this book on my Instagram, quite a few people recommended a previous Belinda Bauer novel, Rubbernecker, so that’s going on my TBR list. Snap didn’t tick all the boxes for me, but I was impressed with Bauer’s tone and style, so do actually look forward to reading her again.

I know this book has divided opinion – Have you read it? What did you think?

/ Published by Black Swan 2018

/ 448 pages

/ Rating: 3.5/5

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