the snakes

3 stars

A confusing, disjointed “mystery”.

Bea and Dan, a young, struggling married couple, leave their tiny London flat behind as they take a 3 month break. They drive through France and visit Bea’s troubled brother Alex at a hotel he runs. The couple discover that Alex is alone and the hotel he was supposed to be renovating is in shambles. Alex, a recovering drug addict, is acting strangely, but insists that he is clean. Bea’s parents make a surprise visit to Alex’s hotel, and Dan can’t understand why she hates them so much and wants nothing to do with them, or their millions of dollars and wealthy life style. When a tragedy hits the family, how they cope with the aftermath reveals how deep the family’s dysfunction runs.

This book confused me. I couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to be. The author delved into issues of racism, wealth and privilege, ethics, morality, family dynamics, and child sexual abuse. And that’s just within the immediate family. If that wasn’t enough, add a family tragedy and a stilted mystery involving a foreign police department and I couldn’t figure out what the book was supposed to be about. It seemed like the author had a lot of “great” ideas that she wanted to write a book about, and rather than parsing them out into several books, decided to mash them all together into one jumbled mess. What made me even more upset was that just as I started to enjoy a part of the book, the author would go off into left field about something completely irrelevant. It was jarring to swing back and forth and made it difficult to enjoy the book.

If that wasn’t enough, the ending – or should I say, the lack thereof – was enough to make me want to throw my ipad across the room. The last few chapters of the book were out of sync with the rest of the book, and then the author just abruptly ended the book. I get wanting to let the reader decide for themselves, but generally there is a better build up to the ending that allows each reader to make their own decision. Here, the book just…ends. WTF? This book gets 3 stars rather than 2 because I did enjoy parts of the book.

I received a free copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.