08 May 2018



By Belinda Bauer

Paperback 318 pages
Publisher Black Swan (23rd Aug 2018)
ISBN-13 978-1784160852

'The best crime novel I've read in a very long time.' Val McDermid

📕My Review

11-year-old Jack and his two younger sisters wait in their pregnant mother's broken-down car while she goes to find an emergency roadside phone to call for assistance. When she doesn't return, Jack and his sisters set off to find her. But that hot summer's day is the last they'll see her alive. Their lives are changed forever.

Abandoned by their father, Jack takes charge. He turns to petty crime to support the family and prevent them being discovered by Social Services. One night he quietly breaks into the home of Catherine and leaves a knife with a note beside her bed which reads, 'I could have killed you'. But instead of going to the police, Catherine destroys the note and tries to forget about it. Why doesn't she want the police involved? Jack believes their lives are connected through the murder of his mother and he's determined justice will be served.

Reading Snap brought back vivid memories of a 1988 real-life unsolved murder. A heavily pregnant British woman's car breaks down on the M50 motorway. While making a call for assistance from an emergency roadside phone, she's abducted and stabbed to death. Her 11-year-old sister and one-year-old baby wait inside the car. No one stops to help. The sister and baby are eventually picked up by the police walking along the motorway's hard-shoulder. Startling similarities between the book and this murder lead me to assume it was likely the basis for the novel.

There the similarities end. The book tells of Jack's unwavering search for his mother's killer and the ramifications her murder has upon the family. The story is well-plotted and progresses at a good pace. However, I struggled with the writing style. I felt it was a little too lighthearted when I wanted it to be more sobering. It prevented me from properly connecting with the book. Several characters were introduced but didn't 'go' anywhere - the Bridge family for example. They fizzled out and it was so disappointing. Whilst I felt the book was okay, certain aspects didn't quite hit the mark to elevate it to the next level.

I received an Advance Reader Copy. My thanks to Belinda Bauer, NetGalley and Transworld Digital.

Barnsey's Books Rating 

📗The Blurb


On a stifling summer's day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack's in charge, she said. I won't be long.

But she doesn't come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.

Three years later, mum-to-be Catherine wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note that says: I could have killed you.

Meanwhile Jack is still in charge - of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they're alone in the house, and - quite suddenly - of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother.

But the truth can be a dangerous thing . . .

📘The Author

Belinda Bauer grew up in England and South Africa and now lives in Wales. She worked as a journalist and a screenwriter before finally writing a book to appease her nagging mother. With her debut, Blacklands, Belinda was awarded the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year. She went on to win the CWA Dagger in the Library for her body of work in 2013. Her fourth novel Rubbernecker was voted 2014 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Her books have been translated into 21 languages.

Belinda Bauer on Twitter

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