It’s time for another Debut of the Month – our favourite chance to share with you another brand new and uniquely exciting voice in fiction! If you’re not already watching for our new author picks each month, well, may we kindly recommend that you do? Because they tend to be really quite good.

And this is a good one… not least because the author is a bookseller – and it’s a particular kind of special when someone crosses that bridge. When it comes to appeal, this one has it in bunches: a Yorkshire-set mystery that’s as bound to intrigue as it is to warm the heart. If you enjoyed Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey or The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward, or indeed any crime novel in which suspicions eyes are tightly trained on those close to home, this one’s doubtless for you.

When you were twelve years old, and you knew bad things were happening, what did you find suspicious?

It’s 1979 and all of Yorkshire, while it grapples with Thatcher and the terrible trends coming up from the South, is terrified by a murderous evil and haunted by incessant disappearances: the Yorkshire Ripper – a man who, they keep saying, could be anyone at all.

But worse than that, as far as twelve year old Miv is concerned, is the prospect of her dad moving the family far away. They’ll all be safer down South, he reckons. But that would mean leaving her best friend Sharon. This cannot be allowed to happen. The only way to put the idea to bed is to solve the mystery of The Yorkshire Ripper. If she figures out who it is, they can catch him, she won’t have to leave home, everything can go back to normal and she can get on with focusing on the more baffling mysteries of her changing self.

Miv and Sharon decide that the best way to go about this is to keep a record of all the suspicious people on their street and all the suspicious things they do. The angry teacher with the dark moustache, the shopkeeper who’s not quite like them – there are many to watch and many deeds to note. There is, however, always more going on in the average neighbourhood, Miv’s included, than there seems to be, and anyone paying new amounts of attention is liable to uncover more secrets than they expect to… some concerning their own families, some even to do with their very best friends.

Serving simultaneously as a completely compelling mystery, a wholly evocative snapshot of a troubling and troubled few years, and a tender, insightful coming of age story, The List of Suspicious Things is the beginning of what will no doubt be a closely watched run for Jennie Godfrey. It has some darker themes – what narrative set against a 70s serial killer backdrop wouldn’t? – and packs more than a single gut punch, but this is a debut that will stand out chiefly for the excellence of its characterisation and its portrait of a youthful friendship that could never possibly stay the same.


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