Today’s reviewer is Kate Belt, joyfully retired, whose current passions are reading and managing culture shock after a move from Portland, OR to Omaha, NE two years ago.
My Monday Book recommend offers an enjoyable, escapist, fast moving, story with characters who capture the heart. I’m not a murder mystery fan. I follow only one writer from this genre, Louise Penney, but will give a passing glance to any major award nominee. That’s how I came to read Snap by Belinda Bauer, long-listed for the 2018 Man Booker Prize. When I do read mysteries, I couldn’t care less about who did it or how it was done. Working out the puzzle doesn’t interest me. I gotta love the characters, the setting, the descriptions, all that stuff same as any other novel.
We meet 11-year old Jack on the road to find his mother after she’d left him and his two sisters in their broken-down car, while searching for a phone to call for help. A few days later, she turns up near the area, stabbed to death. Then the dad walks out of the house and never comes back. After that, the worst that could happen is social services finding them alone and placing the children “into care,” what we call foster care in the U.S. Jack is a resourceful child and sustains his little family, though barely, by burglarizing vacant houses with guidance from a young adult mentor, for whom he also babysits. Skinny Jack is adept at getting himself in and out of small spaces. The storyline switches between Jack at age 11 and two years later when he finds a possible clue to his mother’s murderer. Detectives assigned to the case are not quite bumbling, but far from brilliantly competent. The book is more character driven than plot driven.
In full disclosure, I didn’t read this story. I listened to the well-performed Audible audio version, Fast paced and easy to follow, it’s a wonderful choice for an audiobook and would also make an excellent airplane read. Some critical reviewers might have difficulty with the structure. Sometimes the characters strain credibility, but I loved the kids and had to keep rooting for all to turn out ok for them. Did it? Read Snap and find out.