(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Carlotta Carlyle would be the first to agree that her life mightbe considered rather bizarre. After all, she has a live-inhousekeeper who dyes her hair as often as most people use shampooand refuses to keep house; an ongoing love affair with the son ofa prominent gangster; and an employment history that involvesdriving a cab and working as a private investigator. But when shereceives a series of anonymous photographs of an unknown child andsomeone steals her loaded garbage cans even Carlotta is somewhatnonplussed. Not only that, but her twelve-year-old charge from theBig Sister’s organization is seemingly dating a thug ten years hersenior.

When Carlotta acquires a client, the question of thephotographs, the theft of the garbage cans, and even the problemwith her little sister begin to come together. Emily Woodrowbelieves her daughter should not have died in a prestigious Bostonhospital. Admittedly, the child suffered from leukemia, but herparticular strain has a 95 percent cure rate. Despite warningsthat Emily Woodrow is mentally unbalanced, Carlotta resolves toinvestigate. In the process, she discovers that Rebecca Woodrowwas not the only child to die in the same hospital, and that otherpeople connected with the case are also inexplicably turning updead.

SNAPSHOT combines all the elements of a conventional detectivenovel with a critical examination of the internationalpharmaceutical industry and the reality of health care among theurban poor. Barnes continues the process of character developmentwhich distinguishes a good series from those in which the authorsimply rewrites the same book with new titles. Those first-timereaders of the Carlyle canon will wish to examine the earlierworks.