At long last, Lady Sybil has lured her husband, Sam Vimes, on a well-deserved holiday away from the crime and grime of Ankh-Morpork. But for the commander of the City Watch, a vacation in the country is anything but relaxing. The balls, the teas, the muck—not to mention all that fresh air and birdsong—are more than a bit taxing on a cynical city-born and -bred copper.
Yet a policeman will find crime anywhere if he decides to look hard enough, and it’s not long before a body is discovered, and Sam—out of his jurisdiction, out of his element, and out of bacon sandwiches (thanks to his well-meaning wife)—must rely on his instincts, guile, and street smarts to see justice done. As he sets off on the chase, though, he must remember to watch where he steps. … This is the countryside, after all, and the streets most definitely are not paved in gold.
I’ve mentioned before that I adore Terry Pratchett’s novels, right? Almost as much as I love fairy tales. And most of my favorite Discworld novels are Sam Vimes Discworld novels, so of course I had to read Snuff, Pratchett’s most recent release.
For any of you who haven’t read any Discworld novels and don’t know anything about them, let me preface this by saying that you can pick up pretty much any Discworld novel and read it without reading those that preceded it. The novels all stand alone reasonably well. That said, I’d recommend reading Thud, the last Sam Vimes novel, before picking up Snuff. There are some things I believe would make a lot more sense if you’ve read Thud.
Snuff is a fun read, enjoyably paced and full of Pratchett’s distinctive voice. Sam Vimes is just as wonderful as always: who doesn’t love a cop who does whatever he can to make the world right, while still holding himself to the law because he understands he needs it just as much as anyone? With all the TV shows with devil-may-care protagonists, Vimes stands apart. He always gets his man, but he knows when he’s crossing lines that shouldn’t be crossed, and his integrity in that is always impressive.
Praise like that for a character in a comic novel sounds a little odd, and it should. Snuff wasn’t the sort of gut-bustingly funny novel that Pratchett has turned out in the past. I didn’t laugh out loud very often (though I did still), and there wasn’t quite as much absurdity in it. The novel felt more serious to me than most of Pratchett’s work, although it didn’t reach the elegant poignancy of Night Watch, my favorite novel of Pratchett’s.
All in all, I enjoyed Snuff. I’d recommend it to people. I recommend it to you. But I can’t say that it’s the best thing Discworld has seen. Nor is it the worst. When compared to other Discworld novels, it stands up somewhere in the middle of the road. Still, that means it’s miles ahead of many other things I read.