The List of Suspicious Things is a wonderful, moving and stunningly written novel, set in Yorkshire in 1980 in the months leading up to the arrest of the Yorkshire Ripper.
Through the eyes of Miv, aged 12/13, who of course doesn’t always fully understand what is happening around her, we perceive the impact of the threat of violence, and the repeated findings of murdered women, on the people living in the region who are just going about their normal lives.
The List of Suspicious Things is a multilayered narrative, encompassing class, racism, poverty and everyday violence in homes and communities. It’s also a moving – and totally immersive – snapshot of the place and time. Despite the sometimes harrowing scenes, it’s funny and full of empathy and warmth.
Miv and her friend deal with the uncertainty around them, all the things they can’t control, by taking control in their own way: they decide to find out themselves who the murderer is, starting with a list of the things (and people) that seem suspicious.
It’s an original and very clever structure on which to build the narrative. And a wonderful way to marry the complex themes and parallel storylines into Miv’s own story. It throws lightness and humour onto the dark events happening.
The use – and uselessness – of a ‘list of suspicious things’ written in a notebook by a child seems to mirror the ineptitude of the police investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper, carried out using only paper records (without computers) by police officers with insufficient experience for an investigation of this magnitude.
I expect The List of Suspicious Things will garner a lot of praise and both literary and commercial success: it will be well deserved.
Thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the ARC. All my reviews are 100% honest and unbiased, regardless of how I acquire the book.
You might also like: Lullaby Beach | Stella Duffy