The List of Suspicious Things by Jennie Godfrey

This is definitely a book that seems to have picked up a fan base thanks to the Bookstagram community – and it was certainly them that persuaded me to pick up ‘The List of Suspicious Things’ (and it has a rather cool cover). As we know, I do not need blurbs, so all I knew about this one was that it was set at the time the Yorkshire Ripper was active, which did seem to me like an interesting time for a plot to be set.

But, wow, this book is so much more than a tale that has a link to the true crime story of the mid-1970s – this is a study of community, culture and people, and it was impossible to stop reading.

Miv is having a difficult time; her Mother has become distant and disengaged, her father is doing his bit and her overbearing Aunt has moved in. To give her some focus, her and her best friend, Sharon, decide to try and discover who the man is that appears to be bringing terror to streets of Yorkshire – and create a list of suspicious things.

This book is beautifully written and is a very astute commentary on the difficult divides that there were in communities, the ‘behind closed doors’ attitudes that were keeping dark secrets and influence that the far-right was having on the streets in a time that was difficult for many. My heart was breaking at moments when men were not supposed to cry and members of the community were not safe in their own homes because ‘they were not from around here’. Yet, there are moments of humour and constant reminders that the bad apples are actually few and far between.

I absolutely can not share any spoilers, but reading this book was quite an emotional rollercoaster at times – you could be crying and smiling within lines of the same page. But for me it was actually a celebration of strength of character, and that you should always have the confidence to be yourself. Miv, Sharon and Mr Bashir (among others) will all steal a piece of your heart and will stay with you long after you have read the final line.

This book is a stunning debut and I really hope that there is more to come from Jennie Godfrey, because I would certainly be keen to read it.