It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of this author’s work in which she invariably manages to lace her crime novels with a sense of humour. Belinda Bauer above all has an exceptional ability to capture her characters on the page and none more so than when the character is a child. This is in contrast to so many other writers who often appear to use their child characters as a device and somehow make them either bland or annoying, but somehow not quite real. Not so in this novel.
Three children, eleven-year old Jack, nine-year old Joy and two-year old Merry are left on the hard shoulder of the motorway while their pregnant mother walks to the phone box to get help when their car breaks down. The sun is shining on this August day in 1998:
It was so hot in the car that the seats smelled as though they were melting. Jack was in shorts, and every time he moved his legs they sounded like sellotape.
Yes, we’ve all had that experience in a hot car but unlike these poor children our mothers didn’t walk into the distance never to return.
The story then jumps forward three years to Catherine While’s house, her husband Adam is away, she’s heavily pregnant and thinks she can hear someone in the house.
When you lived alone, and you heard a noise in the night, you didn’t cower under the bedclothes and wait for your fate to saunter up the stairs and down the hallway. When you lived alone, you got up and grabbed the torch, the bat, the hairspray and you sneaked downstairs to confront… The dishwasher.
This time though, it wasn’t the dishwasher.
When she returns to bed, there is a knife and a note by the side of her bed, that wasn’t there before.
The reader follows Jack’s struggle following his mother’s disappearance as well as observing what Catherine does following the intruder to her house, and not all of her actions are wise ones!
And then we have a Detective Inspector John Marvel who has been sent to Somerset away from his beloved London following a transgression and he’s assigned to the Goldilocks case; a burglar who breaks into people’s houses and sleeps in their beds before making off with their belongings. His team consists of DC Parrott and DS Reynolds and three make a hilarious trio as they try to catch their man.
So lots going on and yet all so enticing. There wasn’t a page that didn’t delight me with vignettes of observation that really hit the mark:
Angry embers spat and popped inside him. The papers always called her ‘mum-to-be’. But she was a mum-who-already-was.
Everyone had forgotten him and Joy and Merry.
Friday night and Catherine’s risotto was a triumph. All she’d done was stand and stir it while The Archers was on, but Jan went on and on about it as I she’d spit-roasted a unicorn.
The star of this show though is Jack, his resilience alone is amazing, and it is precisely because we see the cracks in his armour that I couldn’t help but fall in love with him.
A read that I have to admit is a tad quirky for a crime novel, a book that will truly entertain you while the darkness of murder lurks. It is so refreshing to read something that is differs in style within this, my favourite genre.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers by way of this unbiased review for allowing me to read a copy of Snap, prior to the publication in eBook format today, 3 May 2018. For those of you who want the print version it is following on 17 May 2018.
Other Books by Belinda Bauer