Haley Mori wants to be famous. Actually, she wants to be Insta famous. An alternative model riddled with debt (she can barely afford to scrape together the few dollars for a cup of coffee), Hailey adopts the hashtag #snapflashhustle after noticing the hits it generates on Instagram. And it does—a single photo lands her the well-paid job of her dreams. But it comes at a price, and soon Haley is walking straight into a new gig that brings her both the photoshoots she’s craving and a few extra-curricular illegal activities on the side.
Snap Flash Hustle
Snap Flash Hustle is a modern artistic crime thriller set in the social media age. And while the precarious nature of the young woman struggling with career debt is a plot we have seen numerous times, the world which Pat Shand has created is a refreshing take on a tried and tested formula. Emily Pearson’s artwork is gorgeously pink—pastel pink, blush pink, rose pink, pencil pink—in a candy-floss-colored 1950s retro dream sort of way. Maybe this is an unconscious manifestation of sorts? Maybe it’s a nightmare — the pale pink illusion a rose-tinted facade to the dreamy Instagram modeling life that so many women aspire to. (There is even a smashed bottle of pink nail polish and a photoshoot that calls for pints of pink paint.)
The story never feels hurried, which may annoy some, but if you appreciate a slow-burner that still has room to breathe then this is pretty much it. Interestingly, the real-life activities out-interest the criminal ones, especially Haley going for coffee or, at home, still adjusting to her marriage becoming a “thruple.” Pauline, a sweet, younger girl who idolises Haley, yearns for a similar modelling career and showers her with kisses when she arrives home. But Haley does not want to take her to work, or even help her model. Maybe she wants to keep the career that has started to succeed just for herself, and not have it spill over into her home life. This is for her, not to be shared. Or maybe she is scared for Pauline’s safety? Haley is not vacuous, she knows the struggles and risks involved—at the root of it, she just wants to earn a decent living to support her family. There is a reason for her motifs.
The models are a fascinating group of characters, especially Coral, the livewire ringleader who invites herself to dinner at Haley’s home because she is so curious about her polyamorous lifestyle. Then there is Rosabelle, a single mom taking phone calls from her babysitter and determined to make a better life for her child. Yes, there is nudity, but it provides context to the photoshoots rather than distracting from it. In some instances, these are the moments when we learn more about the characters as they talk among themselves, allowing us further insight into their characters. These are the interesting moments, close-up faces sketched with intricate strain allowing us greater insight into their internal monologues than any dialogue bubbles.
Snap Flash Hustle may be a little slow-paced for some who like their books more fast and furious, but it will appeal to readers who are interested in the minutiae of everyday life, encased by a social media domestic crime for the Instagram age.