Monday, August 27, 2018

Snap by Belinda Bauer

Life has not been kind to Jack Bright.  When he is eleven, the car in which he is riding with his mother and two younger sisters breaks down.  His mother leaves to find a phone telling Jack he is in charge.  She never returns.  Two weeks later, her body is found, the victim of an attack and murder.

Three years later, Jack's still in charge.  Unable to handle the stress of losing his wife, Jack's father goes out to get milk one day and never returns.  Jack is left to keep the family together and hide the fact that he is the man of the family.  The girls stay home now as going to school might reveal their situation and put the three into the system where they would be separated.  Jack makes sure they stay under the radar by keeping the house spruced up and making sure they have the material things they need to survive.  Since he is too young to get a job, he ensures their survival by stealing.  He breaks into houses and steals things to turn over for pay but also steals healthy food and books.  He steals a lawnmower so the grass will remain trim and steals paint in order to spruce up the outside of the house.  All appears normal.

Then one day while breaking into a house, Jack makes a discovery.  He finds the knife that killed his mother and he now knows the identity of her murderer.  He can't do anything about it himself but he brings the police in on his secret, even at the expense of being caught for the hundreds of robberies he has done.  Is Jack right?  Will the police detective in charge be able to prove it?  He is new to the district, transferred in after messing up elsewhere.  Can this be his redemption as well as Jack's?

Belinda Bauer burst onto the mystery scene with her first novel, Blacklands, in 2010, which promptly won the Crime Writer's Gold Dagger Award for Best Novel Of the Year.  She has written a series of mysteries since, and is often compared to mystery writers such as Ruth Rendell and Minette Walters.  Her books tend to focus on young people who are exposed to crime through no fault of their own and who slowly come to realise that not everyone can be trusted.  This book has been longlisted for the Mann Booker Award this year and is recommended for mystery readers. 

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