Friday, 1 February 2013

Forgotten Book - Snap

My Forgotten Book for today is another from that very fine writer Jacqueline Wilson, one more of that sadly all too short sequence of crime novels she wrote in the 70s.Snap was published in 1974, when she was just 29 years old. In some ways, it reminds me of the books that Margaret Yorke started writing at around the same time - stories about very ordinary people who find themselves caught up in events that lead to murder.

There are three connected storylines in Snap. Katy is a 14 year old girl (and Wilson excels at depicting teenage girls) who has a crush on her schoolteacher. Unfortunately, it's a relationship that he encourages. It's easy to foresee that it will end badly - but how, exactly?

Meanwhile, Katy's mother, Frances (a very likeable woman) is a widow who writes romantic stories for magazines. She comes to the attention of George, a literary agent who is recently bereaved. His wife was someone he never loved, and who made his life a misery. When he meets Frances for lunch, the attraction is mutual.

Unknown to George, his secretary, Ellen,is secretly infatuated with him. When George invites her out for a drink, she seizes her chance to develop the relationship, with disastrous consequences. Wilson manages the different narratives with considerable expertise,and springs one particularly good surprise close to the end. When I looked back at the earlier chapters, I found myself admiring the skilful and subtle way she had planted the clues to that particular twist.

This is a good example of how a very short novel can be intensely gripping. One can only guess at how prominent Wilson would have become as a crime writer, had she not changed course and become a stellar children's writer instead. I think she might have given even the great Ruth Rendell a run for her money.


Anonymous said...

Martin - I never fail to learn about authors whose work I need to explore more deeply when I visit your blog. This is no exception. Thanks.

Clothes In Books said...

I read this one years ago, and remember being very impressed by it, and particularly by that twist. When JW came up as a children's author I eventually realized it was the same person - she is very dismissive of her early thrillers, but I thought they were excellent.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, both. She really is a fine writer.