Terry Pratchett – Snuff

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that’s better. There’s nothing like a new Terry Pratchett book to make the world feel like a better place. This is especially so when the book has Sam Vimes, Commander of the City Watch, and reluctant possessor of assorted other titles which Patrician Lord Vetinari seems to have deployed as weapons in their ongoing not exactly conflict.

The fun starts when Vimes is reluctantly sent on holiday, and as we all know, when your policeman hero goes on holiday, it’s only a matter of time before he runs into some suitably nasty criminal activity which only he can deal with. And Terry, having due regard for the principles and power of The Story, ensures that Vimes does indeed run into some nasty activity. The trouble is that while much of what’s going on is vile, foul and reprehensible, it’s not technically criminal, which makes Sam’s job a little more complicated.

It’s the Goblins, you see. Yet another more or less humanoid species on the Disk, who unlike quite respectable people like Vampires, Trolls, and even Nobby Nobbs, aren’t regarded as people by most people, despite them talking and all that…

There’s a seriously nasty murderer on the loose, a nice trip down the river in a boat with the lovely name The Wonderful Fanny[1], which causes as much amusement for Vimes and others as it would to most people[2].

There is if course lots of Deadly Peril for Vimes and his family, aristocrats to be mocked, important messages to be sent, and Sam indulging in a little bit of political string pulling, calling in of favours, and generally disrupting things as only he can.

And there are, of course, lots of jokes[3], and some lovely lines, such as this interchange between the young local policeman who’s been sent to arrest Vimes for a crime that he obviously didn’t commit:

‘It’s a legitimate deduction sir, you must admit that’

‘Of course I do, and now it’s a total bastard of a deduction, and now you must admit that’

And then there’s this bit, when Vimes warns the captain of the, look, I’m not mentioning the name again, that there’s an obstacle to the left of the boat

The wheel spun frantically again. ‘Obliged to you, sir, and I surely hope you won’t take it amiss if I say that we generally talk about port and starboard?’

‘Wouldn’t know about that, Gastic, never drank starboard.

And finally, one for the fans

Sybil will go totally librarian about it!

Nope, not explaining it. If you don’t get it, you haven’t been doing the required reading, and you’ve got another 38 books to catch up on. Get on with it!

So there it is, another seriously funny, and seriously serious piece of work from the master.

[1] Look, her name was Francesca…
[2] Note to any non-UK readers, especially Americans: when British people hear the word “fanny”, what comes to mind isn’t the bit you sit on so much as ladies’ naughty bits. It’s a much more polite term than all the other ones I’m not going to use, I should point out.
[3] Only some of which involve references to the previously mentioned river craft