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Bold, insightful and terrifying – the compulsive, contemporary new novel from No.1 bestselling author Sadie Jones

The tense and violent story of the Adamsons, a dysfunctional English family, with exceptional wealth, whose darkest secrets come back to bite them. Jones (The Outcast, Small Wars, The Uninvited Guests) moves into a contemporary setting for the first time with this gripping story set in rural France and the interview rooms of the local gendarmerie. An all-consuming read and a devastating portrait of how money corrupts, and how chance can deal a deadly hand.

The Snakes exposes the damage wreaked by parents on children as observed by a new member of the family, Dan, a mixed-race man from Peckham who marries Bea, who refuses to take any of her father’s filthy money. But when Bea’s brother Alex (who runs a shabby hotel in Paligny, France) dies suddenly in unexplained circumstances, the confusion and suspicion which arises brings other dark family secrets – and violence -- to the surface. And none of the family – even the good – go untouched.


instant modern classic. The Snakes is superbly written, each sentence punctuated by a drumbeat of menace, each word placed with a master's touch. I keep thinking about the questions it poses: about what it is to be good in these imperfect times; about how we can protect our humanity in the face of narcissism and greed. Yet for all its depth and mystery, The Snakes is also just a thrillingly good read

Elizabeth Day

A suspenseful, beautifully written thriller about the corruption of money and abuse within a dysfunctional family


The Snakes is gripping from the outset, then finally unputdownable. The writing is magnificent. One of the most powerful and uncompromising novels I've read in years.

Jonathan Coe

An all-encompassing read from the first page to the devastating final paragraph

Alice O’Keeffe, The Bookseller

I am blowing the trumpet for The Snakes to anyone who'll listen. I devoured the book, awed by its beauty and brilliance. We'll be lucky if 2019 brings us much else of this rank. This is wickedly good writing and something really special. Sadie Jones has talent to burn.

Billy O'Callaghan

Masterful, terrifying, dangerous, with an ending that is as uncompromising as the build-up is truthful. The Snakes is as beautifully written as it is dark and honest.

Rachel Joyce

I was absolutely gripped by this original and beautifully-told story of a couple enmeshed in a nest of vipers -- a rich family of criminals. Its evocation of a sinister French house, the corruption of love and the powerlessness of good is both haunting and chilling. Nobody contemporary writes about unhappy families as well as Sadie Jones.

Amanda Craig

Sadie Jones is such an enjoyable novelist to spend time with. Her books are so easy to read, while each sentence is rich in meaty observation… Elegantly atmospheric… [The Snakes] left me breathless

Claire Allfree, Daily Mail

The Snakes asks serious questions about human nature, avarice and justice, wrapped in the fast-paced rhythms of a thriller. IT is written with Jones’s trademark economy and a fierce attention to the nuances of familial cruelty… I finished The Snakes with a juddering heart, strangely close to tears

Elizabeth Lowry, Guardian

Ever since her debut, The Outcast, Jones has peopled her propulsive plots with nuanced, dimensional creations imbued with human failings and graces. The Snakes is no exception… Jones crafts a pitiless shock ending; a denouement that refuses closure and resonates long after the book is set aside… [the ending is] bound to become a talking point

Suzi Feay, Financial Times

The ending is devastating

Jeffrey Burke, Mail on Sunday

A menacing, beautifully written novel

Guardian, *Summer Reads of 2019*

This gripping read drips with a menace that builds of the shocking final pages

Joanne Finney, Good Housekeeping, *Book of the Month*

[A] menacing new contemporary thriller… a tantalising set-up, after which the plot zigzags unpredictably to a brutally stark finale that steals the breath

Anthony Cummins, Metro

The Snakes…has all of Jones’s trademark depth and layered storytelling

Sarra Manning, Red

Unsettling, thought-provoking and beautifully written, you won’t be able to get this out of your head

Caroline Robb, Heat

Jones’s style is immediate and lively and she is particularly good at dialogue, which she uses a great deal, often to advance the fast-paced plot

Elisa Seagrave, Literary Review

Sadie Jones… knows how to construct a narrative of great emotional power. Her prose is crisp and precise, studded with spiky observations

Andrew Taylor, Spectator

The Snakes unfolds in clean, functional prose and Jones has a lot to say about the way we live now

Johanna Thomas-Corr, Evening Standard

Determined to escape the nine-to-five monotony, Bea and Dan head to France to visit Bea’s wayward brother Alex, who runs a hotel where the only guests are snakes in the attic. The peace is shattered when Bea’s parents arrive, bringingconflict and misery. From a sedate start, Jones deftly builds the tension to a horrific and powerful conclusion.

The Telegraph

Jones’s fifth novel is a fantastic read as a thriller, but where Jones excels, is in her microscopic yet compassionate scrutiny of relationships: the unconditional doting of a flawed sibling; the sickening toxicity of a vicious but powerful parent; the watchful care and explosions of irritation between spouses

Maria Crawford, Financial Times, *Summer Reads of 2019*

Deliciously wicked... the perfect antidote to a relaxing summer's day... hypnotic -- like staring into the serpent's eyes just before it strikes

Ron Charles, Washington Post

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    March 19, 2019

    Chatto & Windus

    448 pages

    RRP $37.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • Hardback


    March 7, 2019

    Chatto & Windus

    448 pages

    RRP $40.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz



The night they decided to leave London Bea had a dream. Dreams are like silent films; guns are fired without shots, people talk without voices. This dream was deafening. The noise woke Bea up, shocked breathless, and terrified.

She didn’t think she’d had the dream because they had decided to go away, it was more likely because of what had happened with the Italian leather holdall and the girl with the knife.

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