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The Snakes by Sadie Jones

A backlist buyer at my old work handed me a yellow keychain that came with an advanced reader copy of The Snakes by Sadie Jones. It's a black tag—like one finds on a hotel key—and has a snake on it, so I said sure, I'll take it. A while later, after downloading new audio books from Libro.fm, I spotted The Snakes, and figured I should probably know what I'm advertising.

A newly married couple -- Bea and Dan -- rent out their flat in London through Air B&B for some extra income, and take the opportunity to take a long French road trip to visit Bea's brother. Alex owns and operates a hotel in Burgundy, so they can stay for little to nothing while their apartment is in use. Now, they know Alex is a dropout and not particularly responsible, but they never expected to find the hotel deserted and disintegrating into a literal snakes' nest.

Out of nowhere, Bea's extremely wealthy parents appear and Alex is found dead, and fingers are being pointed in all directions. Bea's family strains, money-related tensions, and dead brother all coil up in a pit of tragedy and drama, ready to strike with venomous fangs bared.

I am thoroughly entertained by Dan, Bea's husband. There is an awesome scene where he is being interrogated by a French police detective and his translator (since he doesn't speak very fluently), where he just puts up with their nonsense then decides that he won't anymore. Part of the humor in it is that he is of mixed racial background and married to a very white English woman from a very wealthy family, and he is being accused of just about every possible stereotype this French wad can think of. Even the translator is embarrassed. Finally, Dan is pushed to the point of sarcastic, even incriminating, answers to ridiculous questions (like was he his wife's first black man in bed...) ending with the answer to 'why did you marry her?' as 'because she's a rich white woman' and him walking out. It's 100% black humor, but it is excellent.

If you like suspenseful, dark, brooding murder mysteries with splashes of dark humor, you will love The Snakes. It's literary, thrilling, and you don't need a hotel key to check it out.

"'I wonder if it hurts them to shed their skins,’ she said. She didn’t feel afraid standing in the darkness, imagining snakes, even with the smell of death in the air."

The Snakes by Sadie Jones

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