I’ve wanted to read Belinda Bauer for ages because I’ve heard so many good things about her books. Even so, I was surprised to see her on the Man Booker longlist. I don’t think many crime novels are included usually. And so, even though Rubbernecker is on my piles, I went and got Snap. I finished it two days ago and am still baffled. Baffled it made the Booker longlist. Not only baffled – sad really – because if the typical Booker longlist reader usually doesn’t read crime and this is his introduction to the genre . . . Not ideal. Baffled also because it’s such a weak book. There’s some nice writing there, good characterisations, but the story is unbelievable, relies heavily on coincidences – one after the other – and the killer’s motive is so far-fetched that it’s painful.
The premise is interesting enough. A pregnant mother leaves her kids in the car to get petrol and never returns. Later, her body is found. She’s been murdered. There are no suspects and soon it’s a cold case. Three years later, the three kids are living on their own in the messiest place one could imagine. What happened? The dad couldn’t cope and left the three children to fend for themselves. The oldest, Jack, provides for them by breaking and entering into houses whose owners are on holidays. Unfortunately, (biggest coincidence) one house isn’t abandoned and inside Jack finds not only a pregnant woman, but an object he believes had something to do with his mother’s death.
If I didn’t already own Rubbernecker, I’m pretty certain, I would not return to Belinda Bauer. But since I do, I might give her another try. I’m not sure though. I’ve read many great crime novels this year and also a few mediocre ones, but none was as unbelievable as this.
Why did I finish it, you may wonder? For the longest time, I thought it might go into another direction. Sadly it didn’t. And there was zero atmosphere.
28 thoughts on “A Very Short Review – Belinda Bauer: Snap (2018)”
Spot on, Caroline. I don’t think, McDermid did Bauer any favours championing this into the Booker longlist.
No, she didn’t. I’m glad to know you felt the same. Such a weak book.
Oh dear….. At least I know to avoid this one, and also that I’m right to mainly avoid the Booker nowadays! 😀
Yes, avoid. I don’t normally pick a book just because it’s on a long/short list but I was intrigued and then to find such a dud! And thinking of my enormous piles and everything I could have read instead . . .
You know, it’s so interesting to read this. I’ve heard a range of different opinions on this book, ranging from wildly enthusiastic to really negative. While I doubt whether it’s for me, I am intrigued by the spread of responses it seems to be generating.
Wildly enthusiastic? I wonder which parts of the book were missing in that person’s copy. 🙂 I’m mean, but honestly, I have no clue why someone would like this.
It’s strange because there are many incredible crime novels that could sit on the Booker list. You are not the first to say that this is a good premise but not a great book.
I agree with. Stunning crime novels but this one really isn’t. I read somewhere that she never considered herself to be a crime writer. Unfortunately, this dies absolutely not work as a literary novel. It’s decidedly genre.
It’s a shame that the time the Booker branches out, it’s with a book that suggests widening the scope of the prize was misguided! Hopefully it won’t put them off doing so again.
I agree. It is a shame. There are so many truly literary crime novels out there, original novels. This one is badly plotted and full of cliches.
Too bad that the book was a disappointment. Though some books can work if they are unrealistic and include a lot of coincidences, I think that a crime novel needs to be realistic in order to work. The coincidence thaf you describe in this book sounds like it is too much to take.
Plotting is key in this type of crime novel and it’s badly done. You should not rely on coincidence in books like this, one would have been OK but so many?
I’ve heard lot of good things about her other novels, several of which I have, but I think I’ll give this one a miss now.
Read the others first. I don’t think this would wow you.
I’m always pleased to see a genre novel break the prizelist barrier. I don’t know this author so I can’t comment on the details of the story but I imagine there must be some merit to it for it to have gained the listing. Authors and jury members have to defend their choices backchannel – to other writers and literary sorts – so they will have their reasons, even if the kind of books they like is not a kind which very many other readers enjoy. It’s too bad you didn’t enjoy it more, but I find it interesting that you’re planning to read the other anyway. 🙂
I would love to see the way they justified this because I don’t see merit. Although, the writing is very good. She uses many metaphors that work. Maybe that played into it?
I find it worse to read a well plotted but badly written book than the opposite, that’s why I would read her again. From what I see the opinions on other books were much more unanimous. That said, I liked that they included a crime novel this year.
Sorry to know that this book wasn’t as good as you hoped it would be, Caroline. I have heard of Belinda Bauer but haven’t read any of her books. So surprised that this got into the Booker longlist. I won’t be reading this now 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
It was a disappointment. I’m sure you’d feel the same. I’m not opposed to crime novels being added to the Booker long list but this was a weird choice.
Sorry to hear that, Caroline! Maybe fiction spilled over into reality, and the book’s appearance on the Booker longlist was another of those unlikely coincidences 😉
Oh that’s a possibility. 🙂
Hi Caroline–I have been thinking about you! I think every time November approaches I think of German Lit Month and I am happy to see you have organized a readalong/monthlong read event. I am going to try and squeeze in a book, though my reading (and life in general) is all pretty haphazard. I was curious about this–it kind of appealed but kind of didn’t. I just read a book for a book club that I thoroughly did not like and had I not bought it in cloth I think I will have bailed on it. It’s curious how things are chosen sometimes–as for the book I just read lots of people loved it, so I seem to have missed something…. But that’s how it goes with reading, I guess! (Glad to see you blogging regularly)!
Lovely to see you here. We’ve changed the format a bit, although, Lizzy will be reading loads of other things. I’ll stick to the readalong titles. We need to catch up via email. I’d love to know how you’ve been.
Snap phew . . . Not a good book. About your book club book. Maybe you caught something the others didn’t? 🙂
I blog rarely but relatively regularly.
I am only kind of online (blogwise), too. Not sure what else I am doing really–other than working, and seeing lots of movies but life is just sort of weird otherwise I guess. I am looking forward to reading along–and yes, definitely need to catch up via email.
I know what you mean. And time seems to just fly by. It will be good to catch up.
Thank you, Caroline, for your honest review of this book. I, too, have been astonished when I look through the lists of nominees for the Booker this year. I’d read “The Overstory”, by Richard Powers, and found it to be one of those “unputdownable” books you read only once in a while. A real treasure of a book, written in a poetic and spirit-filled style; Powers is an amazingly good writer judging from this novel, and I plan to read his earlier books as well.
Have you read “The Overstory”, Caroline? If so, what are your thoughts?
Thanks so much,
I couldn’t praise this as much as I usually try to find some good. I did find some good in it but overall, no, it didn’t work.
I’m glad you tell me about Powers book as I haven’t seen any reviews. I might not get to it right away although you make it sound tempting as I think I have another one on my piles but I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks.
Just reading your review, I too am baffled as to how this made the Booker list. What a far-fetched plot. Too bad.
Yes, it is. And I rarely say this, but this isn’t a question of taste. It’s just not good.