Feb 03, 2017
kosmo - See all 770 of my articles
Gregory McDonald is known mostly for creating the character of Fletch, made famous in the movies by Chevy Chase. As a kid, I read many of the Fletch novels, so I was happy to review another of McDonald’s books.
To be more accurate, Snatch is actually two distinct books (Who Took Toby Rinaldi and Safekeeping) that were initially released in the 1980s and are now being combined in a single volume by Hard Case Crime. Both books deal with kidnapping, but are not related in any other way. They are set in different times and have a completely separate case of characters. On the positive side, combing the two novellas into one volume creates a better price point for the buyer than if they were sold as separate books.
The first story involved the kidnapping of Toby Rinaldi and is set in the 1970s. Rinaldi is the son of a diplomat, and the kidnapping is a plot to derail a United Nations resolution related to oil in the middle east. Most of the story follows his mother’s attempt to track down Toby and bring him back home. The end game in this stories plays out a bit longer I would have liked. Up until that point, the pace had been good. Overall, the storyline is well constructed.
The kidnapping of the son of a British duke is the subject of the second story, which is set during World War II. In contrast to the first story, a strange sequence of events drops Bobby Burnes into the lap of his kidnappers, who quickly realize what they have and attempt to capitalize on their good fortune. Much of the story follows Bobby’s attempts to find food, as well as his secondary goal of trying to extricate himself form his situation. The tone in the second story isn’t quite as serious as the tone in the first. Also, the kidnapped boy is almost always present in the action in this story, whereas Toby would often drop out of view in the first book, to focus on the attempts to rescue him.
Many of the characters are a bit strange. That’s not terribly surprising, since the same author created Fletch. The characters aren’t completely good or bad – there are a lot of shades of gray. None of the kidnappers are inherently evil, and McDonald makes you feel sorry for them at times. Both boys are precocious and are able to outwit the adults at time. Aside from the two boys, my favorite character was reporter / world-class bullshit artist Thadeus Lowry.
Although I enjoyed the second story more than the first, both are pretty good. Like most of McDonald’s work, it’s an easy ready – suitable for a lazy Sunday afternoon or a day at the beach.
Snatch goes on sale February 7.
[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Snatch for review purposes.]
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