My wife and I finished reading the Spanish translation of this book last night. I was intrigued as to why the Spanish title was the same as in English, until I discovered that the Spanish word for snuff (used throughout the translation) is rapé. Can you imagine that in all caps on a book cover?
Snuff is a good story. Commander Vimes goes on vacation to his wife’s country estate, where he fights the local blacksmith, gets arrested for murder by 19-year-old Constable Feeney Upshot, investigates the bloody death of a goblin, uncovers a tobacco and drug smuggling ring involving the local magistrates, discovers that goblins have been kidnapped and shipped overseas for slave labor, and helps pilot a riverboat down a raging flooded river in pursuit of a psychopathic killer. His valet, Willikins, plays a key role in dealing with the psychopath. Sergeant Colon is transformed by touching a goblin-made container attached to a cigar. Corporal Nobby Nobbs finds love. Vimes’ wife, Lady Sybil, strikes a major blow for species equality by organizing a concert featuring a goblin harpist. Sam Vimes Junior begins a promising career as an animal poo specialist.
We had only two gripes with the book:
1) During a raid to arrest one of the villains, Vimes disappears into the cellar and returns with detailed knowledge about the perpetrator’s activities, the result of consulting with a spirit associated with the darkness of dwarf mines. This is cheap writing; it’s too easy, for one thing, and goes far beyond the type of assistance the spirit usually gives him.
2) There is far too much preaching. Besides Vimes’ constant internal musing, his lectures to the psychopath and to constable Feeney take up entire pages. Lord Vetinari and Willikins are also guilty of long-winded monologues. I get the feeling that Pratchett was very aware of his own mortality at the time he wrote the book, and was eager to leave a legacy of his convictions.
However, if any author deserves a modest amount of self-indulgence, it is Terry Pratchett.