Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: Snuff

Title: Snuff
Author: Terry Pratchett
Pages: 416
ISBN: 9780062011848
Series: Discworld #39
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: October 2011
Genre: Fantasy
Source: eARC from publisher

Buy it from:
The Book Depository

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse.

And Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe. There are many, many bodies and an ancient crime more terrible than murder.

He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, and occasionally snookered and out of his mind, but never out of guile. Where there is a crime there must be a finding, there must be a chase and there must be a punishment.

They say that in the end all sins are forgiven. But not quite all…
I’m a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. They are my comfort reads. Whenever I’m feeling blue or if I’m stuck in a reading slump I reach for the nearest Pratchett and my troubles soon disappear in bouts of laughter or, at the very least, some mirthful sniggers. I love Pratchett’s sense of humor and his wonderful ability to play with words (and footnotes) while telling a compelling story that holds a fantastical mirror up to our world. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on his latest, Snuff, and I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.

Snuff is the 39th Discworld novel and continues the City Watch story arc. Commander Vimes is forced to take a vacation in the countryside with his family, Lady Sybil and Young Sam, where he soon discovers that something serious is amiss. You can take the watchman out of the city, but you can’t take the watchman out of Vimes. Vimes sets out to uncover what nefarious crimes the seemingly tranquil countryside is hiding and finds himself in the center of a ruthless smuggling operation. Will he succeed in bringing justice to those who need it the most?

Snuff is the darkest Discworld novel I’ve read so far. The humor is toned down quite a bit, but I think that is because it deals with some very serious issues – murder, slavery, human (species!) rights, the class divide, smuggling and corruption. There are still some brilliantly funny moments scattered throughout the novel. Young Sam’s fascination with poo and all things poo related resulted in quite a few sniggers. There are also some funny references to Twitter and even Jane Austen gets the Pratchett treatment.

The plot is engaging and progresses at a fast pace, like any decent crime novel should. Vimes is one of my favorite characters and I loved seeing him in action again. He has to struggle with his own darker nature throughout the novel, but he comes to realize that while there are similarities between him and the criminals, his control of his darker side and his unwavering belief in justice is what makes him such a good watchman.

The story culminates in a daring chase aboard a string of barges where Vimes has a final showdown with the criminals. In the end justice is done in more ways than one…

The Verdict:
Overall I really enjoyed Snuff. It’s not a light, easy read like most of the other Discworld novels, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The issues Snuff deals with and the social commentary it provides is very apt and relevant in today’s society. Keep this one aside for the times when you are ready for something more serious with just a dash of humor thrown in for good measure.

The Discworld novels are more or less standalone, but you might want to read Thud! before reading Snuff in order to understand some of the references.

The Rating: 7/10 (Very Good)

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