The List of Suspicious Things by Jennie Godfrey

“I don’t know if any of the people we know are suspicious or whether they’re just trying to live their lives.”

Jennie Godfrey’s debut novel, “The List of Suspicious Things,” is a delightful genre mash-up that seamlessly weaves together mystery, thriller, and family drama. Set against the backdrop of a close-knit Yorkshire community in the late 1970s and early 1980s, this immersive novel captures the nostalgia of British childhood while exploring complex themes.

Plot and Atmosphere: The heart of the story lies not in the central mystery but in the intricate web of relationships within the community. Miv and Sharon, our relatable protagonists, begin to pay closer attention to their neighbours and acquaintances. As they peel back the layers, they discover hidden secrets, unexpected connections, and surprising motivations. The slow-paced narrative allows readers to savour the nuances of each character’s life, making it a character-driven exploration.

Characterization: Godfrey excels in character development. Her characters are loveable, honest, and authentic. From the quirky elderly neighbour to the troubled teenager, each person feels like someone you might encounter in your own life. The diverse cast adds depth and authenticity, touching on sensitive topics such as racism, alcoholism, depression, and domestic violence.

Writing Style: The prose is beautifully written, evoking the charm of the Yorkshire countryside. Godfrey’s descriptive language transports readers to the era, capturing the sights, sounds, and smells of a bygone time. The author’s attention to detail immerses us in the setting, making it feel like a character in itself.

Themes: While the central mystery provides intrigue, it’s the exploration of human nature that truly shines. “The List of Suspicious Things” delves into the complexities of relationships, the impact of secrets, and the resilience of community bonds. As Miv and Sharon uncover hidden truths, readers are treated to both heartwarming and heartbreaking moments.

Jennie Godfrey’s special debut is a must-read for fans of character-driven novels. If you appreciate well-developed characters, atmospheric settings, and engaging plots, this book won’t disappoint. It’s a charming journey through nostalgia, friendship, and the quiet courage of ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances.

Note: While the mystery serves as a backdrop, it’s the community dynamics that take centre stage. Prepare to be emotionally satisfied as you navigate the twists and turns of this captivating tale.

Thank you Penguin Random House SA for this gifted copy.

Read an extract: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.co.za/penguinbooksblog/extract-list-suspicious-things-jennie-godfrey

Interview with the author:  https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2024/02/interview-jennie-godfrey-author-list-of-suspicious-things-yorkshire-ripper

About this book: Penguin Random House South Africa – The List of Suspicious Things

About the author:  “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.” (quoted from Penguin UK).

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