Updated: Aug 22, 2019
When their car breaks down, a heavily-pregnant mother leaves her three children in the car at the hard shoulder to find an emergency phone. When she calls for help, the recording is cut short by a mysterious stranger -- and the mother is never seen alive again.
The blurb is brief and vague -- enough to draw me in to buying it. In fact, the blurb pertains only to the first chapter, and so everything that comes after is a surprise. Truthfully, it was a little disappointing: I had expected a survival story from the points of view of the children left behind, either over-coming the elements and their own fears or someone (or something) stalking them, perhaps reminiscent of Stephen King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and instead the events of the blurb are simply the catalyst for the plot.
The chapters are titled quite strangely, which contributes to the sense that it has been rushed off:
- 20 August 1998
- August 1998
- Three Years Later
- August 1998
Other reviewers have commented on the implausibility of Catherine not even reporting the break-in, either to her husband or the police, despite someone going into the attic to fetch the card and leave a knife as evidence. Other plot holes widen and gape, particularly the idea that three children (already under the eye of the authorities after their mother's death) could avoid school for years, paying every bill through convenient miscreant acquaintances and no one ever noticing that they had no parents. The newspapers that fill the house is particularly, needlessly, bizarre.
The mystery of the "Goldilocks" case isn't particularly enthralling, and there are typical "thriller" signs that point to the killer -- but Snap doesn't hinge on uncovering who the murderer is. Instead the characters must link the killer with the crime with something tangible, resulting in a decent climax (even if some aspects are tied up a little too neatly). It's a pleasant change from the "grand reveal," even if the jaded detectives are so familiar as to be caricatures of themselves.
There are flashes of humour, such as Catherine's mother's belief that "she'd paid good money for those rings and somehow felt that the NHS simply didn't want her wearing them -- socialist cartel that is was" and the detective's assertion that bourbons and custard creams are "old people biscuits," but it's not enough to save it. Overall the writing and the plot are passable, but nothing spectacular -- enough to while away a few hours on a library read.