41) Snap by Belinda Bauer
I’ve been a Belinda Bauer fan for a while, having read Blacklands, Finders Keepers, and Rubbernecker, all of which I found to be a cut above the normal crime fiction – primarily because of truly gripping plots and a darkness combined with believability which other authors can’t achieve. So I was really interested when Snap was longlisted for the Booker Prize this year; not just because it makes all us crime fiction readers feel like we’re not ostracised from ‘proper’ writing, but also because it made me wonder if this was Bauer’s best yet.
It’s certainly very good, from a memorable opening of three young children walking along the hard shoulder to try and find their mother right through to the neat-ish denouement. What Bauer does brilliantly, particularly with younger characters, is make them hugely understandable, believable and empathetic – young Jack is the heartbeat of the book, and I found myself living it with him, sharing the weight of responsibility, the impossible decisions, the fear, the worry and the ingenuity of his (criminally) entrepreneurial spirit. The policeman Marvel is wonderfully cynical, wry and sarcastic as well, and I can safely say that I agree with almost every word he says in the book, no matter the topic.
So it is Bauer’s best? I don’t know – I have a real soft spot for Blacklands and find it difficult to separate them. But I’d say this warranted its place on the Booker longlist, and deserved the recognition for itself, not in an ‘on behalf of crime fiction’ kind of way. There are plenty of serious literary fiction writers who would kill for her ability with plot, characters and a concise descriptive line; there are plenty of readers that wish they shared it as well.
BUY IT NOW: Snap: The Sunday Times Bestseller