SNAPSHOT: Virtual Reality Policing: It’s the Future


SNAPSHOT coverby Brandon Sanderson
Narrated by William DeMerritt
Sci-Fi Mystery
Audible Studios

Formats available:  Electronic and Audio

Pub Date: 2.17.17
Time: 2 hours 23 minutes

REVIEWER: Sophia Rose

Audio provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


Snapshot is a Science Fiction detective story following Anthony Davis, a cop assigned to Snapshot Duty. In this vivid world that author Brandon Sanderson has built, society can create a snapshot of a specific day in time. The experiences people have, the paths they follow—all of them are real again for a one day in the snapshot. All for the purposes of investigation by the court. 

Davis’s job as a cop on Snapshot Duty is straight forward. Sometimes he is tasked with finding where a criminal dumped a weapon. Sometimes he is tasked with documenting domestic disputes. Simple. Mundane. One day, in between two snapshot assignments, Davis decides to investigate the memory of a call that was mysteriously never logged at the precinct, and he makes a horrifying discovery.


I have been meaning to try a story by this author for quite some time, but hadn’t gotten around to it until now.  My loss!  The creative worldbuilding, the description of characters and setting, the tight plot with that wow-worthy end twist made for a fantastic first-time encounter.  This was a cross between sci-fi and mystery with a good old-fashioned detective noir feel.

This shorter story introduces a futuristic situation when technology now allows police to use virtual reality to solve crimes.  There is a simulation called Snapshot that is controversial and innovative.  Because it can recreate the whole cityscape on any given past day and government in the form of police can go inside it, people of wary that their privacy rights are being violated.  Plus it’s expensive to run the program so it’s only used on court cases when the police are stumped for lack of solid evidence and a judge can court order a Snapshot sim to run and allow virtual detective to go in and check out the scene at the day and hour when the crime is committed to see where the evidence can be found back in real life.  

Because it’s a sim world, this type of detecting is nearly considered ‘mall cop’ stuff to the regular force.  Davis and Chaz are considered screw ups for troubles in their pasts, but both are still smarting under the disdain of the ‘real life’ cops.  Both want to prove themselves so they set out to solve the darker case they stumbled upon.  I enjoyed both characters with their flaws and desires to grow and they were a team of opposites.  

But that ending, wow.  I actually saw it coming to a certain extent, but not in its entirety.  Left me sitting there gaping with surprise and I love when a story pulls a ‘gotcha!’ like that.

I experienced Snapshot in its audio version.  This was my first encounter with William DeMeritt as narrator.  He had a great deep gravelly voice that matched the tough guy detectives and the story.  His Chaz accent was perfect with it’s noir flavor.

All in all, quick yet engrossing sci-fi mystery that I can highly recommend.

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