Snatch by Gregory Mcdonald

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Snatch by Gregory Mcdonald

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Not one, but two, stories about kidnapping. Similar premises, but different books. Why not try them out as they are the type of pulp writing you are unlikely to find many other places?
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: February 2017
Publisher: Hard Case Crime
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781785651823

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It's not often that you get two books for the price of one, but if you are going to see this anywhere it will likely be in a reissue. Taking the back catalogue of an author and compiling a larger book consisting of similar stories is a great way of reusing stock that you already have. Hard Case Crime have done this with two books by Fletch author Gregory Mcdonald. Surely two books that centre on kidnapping by the same author would be similar enough to be placed together? Think again.

The first story centres on the taking of Toby Rinaldi, the son of a diplomat and was originally known as Who Took Toby Rinaldi? The second is the misadventures and kidnapping of a young Duke during the Second World War, originally called Safekeeping. Both have victims who are young precocious boys who have been schooled privately, but from there the books have little in common. One has classic style pulp thrills, whilst the other attempts to be far more humorous.

Snatch is a solo affair that contains a duo of novels that would have perhaps have been better left separate. Taken on their own, each has elements going for it. The stronger title is Rinaldi as it plays the thrills straight and is a good slice of pulp fiction. The book does have a little comedy of errors within it, but the mistakes are not meant to be funny, but make the chances of Toby's rescue less likely. The action sequence towards the end of the book is particularly good as it takes place in an amusement park overnight and into the early morning. Seeing the wonder of a theme park through the eyes of the child, juxtaposed with the threat of death, works really well and is the type of thing you only find in vintage pulp such as this.

On the surface Safekeeping should follow the same pattern – same age child, same view of a dangerous world through a child's eyes, but the tone is different. Whilst Rinaldi is a straight thriller, Safekeeping is far broader and attempts over the top characters. The WW2 setting makes it an interesting read in places, but the larger than life characters means that it feels like an unfunny broad comedy. It is particularly jarring towards the end of the book when immense violence if undertaken by an otherwise clownish man. Is this a comedy or a thriller? It struggles to be either.

On its own Rinaldi could have been reissued as Snatch and fans of pulp fiction and Mcdonald's Fletch novel would have been happy. As it is, that book needs to carry the second story, that has an interesting historic setting, but a comedic bent that does not hit home. The two stories together just don't really fit – no characters are in both and the settings are different. In this case the parts are superior to the whole, but still worth a read for pulp fan as Rinaldi in particular has the type of scenes in it that you will only get from this type of reissued vintage pulp.

Hard Case Crime have reissued some great pulp fiction is recent years including Quarry's List by Max Allan Collins and So Nude, So Dead by Ed McBain

Buy Snatch by Gregory Mcdonald at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Snatch by Gregory Mcdonald at

Buy Snatch by Gregory Mcdonald at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Snatch by Gregory Mcdonald at


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