Thursday 28 December 2023

The List of Suspicious Things by Jennie Godfrey #TheListofSuspiciousThings @jennieg_author @HutchHeinemann #BookReview


Yorkshire, 1979

Maggie Thatcher is prime minister, drainpipe jeans are in, and Miv is convinced that her dad wants to move their family Down South.

Because of the murders.

Leaving Yorkshire and her best friend Sharon simply isn't an option, no matter the dangers lurking round their way; or the strangeness at home that started the day Miv's mum stopped talking.

Perhaps if she could solve the case of the disappearing women, they could stay after all?

So, Miv and Sharon decide to make a list: a list of all the suspicious people and things down their street. People they know. People they don't.

But their search for the truth reveals more secrets in their neighbourhood, within their families - and between each other - than they ever thought possible.

What if the real mystery Miv needs to solve is the one that lies much closer to home?

The List of Suspicious Things by Jennie Godfrey is published on 15 February 2024 by Hutchinson Heinemann. My thanks to the publisher who supplied my copy for review. 

I was introduced to Jennie Godfrey at the Theakston's Crime Fiction Festival in Harrogate in July of this year. I have had my proof copy ever since then. I will admit that I read it within a couple of weeks of receiving it but it just felt far too early to share my review. At last, I'm here to shout to the world about this wonderful story. It is full of hope, and nostalgia, featuring characters that will steal your heart. It's also a study in family and community life, taking in serious issues including mental health battles, racism, domestic violence and suicide.  

It's 1979 in Yorkshire and for me this felt like taking a trip back to my own childhood. I'm a little older than the lead character Miv, and would have been a young teenager then whilst she is pre-teen in the story. I lived on the Yorkshire border, not far from where the story takes place and very similar in place and language. 

Margaret Thatcher has been voted in, she's the first female Prime Minister in the UK. Miv's Aunty Jean has plenty to say about her. Aunty Jean has plenty to say about a lot of things to be fair. Aunty Jean lives with Miv and her parents. She stays in the spare room, she does the cooking and the housework as Miv's own Mum is ill and spends much of her time in bed, she never speaks either. Miv looks back to the days when her Mum was chatty, and sang around the house ... she wonders if that Mum will ever return. 

The main talking point at the moment are the murders and the man named the Yorkshire Ripper. Headlines scream out from newsagents windows, the radio and television news is awash with the latest killing. As the number of dead women increase, the community gets more afraid and Miv's Dad is considering moving from the area. Miv decides that if SHE can solve the mystery of the Ripper's identity, then they will stay and it is then that she and her friend Sharon begin to compile their list of suspicious things. 

The story goes on to include multiple characters and explores various themes. There are blossoming young romances, there are inappropriate relationships, there's the difficulties that come when you are different from your neighbours, be it because of your skin colour, or your domestic circumstances. There is tragedy and there is pain. It is a coming of age story that delves deep into everyday human life and does so with compassion and a tender humour throughout. 

I cannot really put into words just how much I enjoyed this wonderful debut from an author who writes like a dream and has created characters that can be cherished. It's so tenderly done, even when dealing with difficult and dark subject matter. It's a joy to read and to discover. Highly recommended by me. 

Jennie Godfrey was raised in West Yorkshire and her debut novel, The List of Suspicious Things, is inspired by her childhood there in the 1970s. 
Jennie is from a mill-working family, but as the first of the generation born after the mills closed, she went to university and built a career in the corporate world. 
In 2020 she left and began to write. 
She is now a writer and part-time Waterstones bookseller and lives in the Somerset

X/Twitter @jennieg_author

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