ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The List of Suspicious Things by Jennie Godfrey

The List of Suspicious Things by Jennie Godfrey will be published by Hutchinson Heinneman on 15th February in hardcover, eBook and audiobook. My thanks to the publishers for the proof copy.

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 is the big debut of 2024 and a book set in late 70s Yorkshire was always going to be a must-read for me. Miv is the star of the show, a soon to be teenage girl with a difficult home life who takes it upon herself to try and catch the Yorkshire Ripper. If she can do that then maybe her family won’t have to leave Yorkshire and she won’t have to leave behind her best friend, Sharon. The two girls, Miv extremely enthusiastic and Sharon not always quite so, set about investigating the people and places on their ever-growing List of Suspicious Things.

It’s only a few months since I watched a TV show that focused quite heavily on the victims of Peter Sutcliffe and so they were on my mind as I started reading. However, I was soon drawn completely and utterly into Miv’s story, which is primarily about childhood, friendship and growing up, with all the ups and downs that life throws at you.

Miv is such a plucky character, inquisitive and fiercely loyal to her friends, and I loved her narrative, even when I could see that she was about to make a dubious decision. There are also chapters from other characters’ viewpoints and this is a book that is made up of richly-drawn creations, from different backgrounds and cultures. I grew to love them all, with a few notable exceptions.

The List of Suspicious Things is an evocative and atmospheric read, transporting me to a time when you had to ring your friends on their house phone and their parents would answer, when there was nothing to do but while away the days having adventures, when the corner shop was the hub of everything. It’s full of spirit and warmth, it made me smile and it brought a tear to my eye. It’s a fabulous nostalgic and tender book.

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 countryside.


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