Snap ~ by Belinda Bauer

The Man Booker Prize long list 2018 was published a couple days ago and there were a couple I’d read and 2 of the 13 listed (Warlight by Michael Ondaatje and The Overstory by Richard Powers -links to  my reviews).    It looks like a good list with a variety of authors from a bunch of countries and includes a graphic novel for the first time –  Sabrina by Nick Drnaso.

But Snap is a thriller –  it’s a definitely a thriller.  There seem to have been one or two on each Booker Long List for several years now,  but this one is more intense.   I first remember Snowdrops (by A.J. Miller) specifically.



by Belinda Bauer
2018 / 352 pages
read by Andrew Wincott – 9h 50m
rating:   rating:  8/ A+++  – literary(ish)  crime

The story concerns a woman who gets  stranded with her three young children  on a country road.  She can’t manage to get to a phone booth (1998) with the children,  so she leaves the kids at the car  –  and never returns.  Later,  they live alone with their bereaved father who is obsessed with finding the culprit,   and no mother.   Jack is angry but does his best to take care of his sisters, Joy and Mary,  and after dad disappears he homeschools them and keeps them from the authorities.    “Jack is in charge.”   The plot line then develops in a surprising way –  plenty of unforeseen twists.

But the Booker Prize?  –  There is scant evidence of what used to be known as “themes” in the way Booker Prize nominations usually have themes.  There’s no exploration of philosophical or psychological ideas,  no particular insights in terms of- love, family, memory,  loss, identity,  aging,  etc.

So … does Snap stand out in some way from the usual run-of-the-mill thriller?    Yes,   specifically,  the plot is very clever and the characters are unique and well drawn with as much fleshing out as appropriate,  especially the young Jack Bright.  The writing is nice and it flows,  but it never overwhelms the ongoing increase in tension although there is the occasional humorous line.  The suspense is excellent.  This novel does not pretend to be anything it’s not.

The dreams Jack has once in awhile through the book are an interesting device.   I had no dreams as I read this book –  it kept me up until I finished.   (YAY!)

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5 Responses to Snap ~ by Belinda Bauer

  1. Lisa Hill says:

    This reminds me of an otherwise forgettable murder mystery that was nominated for a big translated fiction prize… I can’t even remember which one… it had a clever-ish plot but like this one it had “no exploration of philosophical or psychological ideas, no particular insights in terms of- love, family, memory, loss, identity, aging, etc.”
    And that’s what I read *for*.


    • Oh I know it – there was more emphasis on the “literary” quality of the books back in the 1980s- 2000s. Times have changed all over, I guess. Every year now there’s a “thriller” in the long list. I guess it represents a certain element in the readership and then … Snap is a very good crime novel – a wee bit literary I suppose, maybe, but not like “literary” meant 10 years ago.

      “The Man Booker Prizes reward the finest in fiction, highlighting great books to readers.”
      that’s all their web-page says – that and:

      “This “common man” approach to the selection of Man Booker juries is, I believe, one of the key reasons why “the intelligent general audience” trusts the prize.” It’s what us seniors consider to be a new level of “dumbing down.” And it’s pretty blatantly for the money – promising increased sales to the winners and all who make the long list. (right up front!)


  2. Carmen says:

    Ouch, Becky! 🙂 I guess you are right. I always thought of the Man Booker as an award for highly literary works.

    Liked by 1 person

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