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As gripping as it gets: Michele Magwood reviews Belinda Bauer’s Man Booker Prize-longlisted thriller, Snap

Published in the Sunday Times


Snap
****
Belinda Bauer, Penguin Random House, R290

Belinda Bauer is an exceptional thriller writer. Her books are low on gore and high on psychology and what sets her apart from other suspense or domestic noir writers is that in each book she introduces a fascinating syndrome or set of beliefs. In Rubbernecker, for instance,she explores the condition of autism and in The Shut Eye she tackles the subject of psychics.

In her latest, eagerly awaited novel Snap she takes the reader into the world of hoarding. As always, it adds another dimension to a typically enthralling storyline.

In the opening chapter three children are waiting in a broken-down car on the edge of a busy road in Somerset. Their mother has gone to find a telephone and has not come back. Hungry and thirsty, they decide to go looking for her, only to find a receiver hanging off the hook in a phone box. She will never return.

The story jumps ahead three years and we meet Catherine While, who is expecting her first child. Her husband is away and she is convinced she hears someone in the house. When she wakes up she finds a knife next to her bed and a note saying, “I could have killed you.”

Bauer switches back and forth between the abandoned children as they try to survive, hiding from social services staff, whom they know will split them up, and Catherine as she lives in increasing fear. Add in a splendidly splenetic cop in the form of DI Marvel and two comic sidekicks, and all the elements are in place for an original, utterly gripping story. @michelemagwood

Snap has been nominated for the Man Booker prize.

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