A nightmare jolts Debs awake. She leaves the kids tucked up in their beds and goes downstairs. There’s a man in her kitchen, holding a knife. But it’s not an intruder. This is her husband Marc, the father of her children. A man she no longer recognises.

Once their differences were what drew them together, what turned them on. Him, the ex-army officer from a good family. Her, the fitness instructor who grew up over a pub. But now these differences grate to the point of drawing blood. Marc screams in his sleep. And Debs hardly knows the person she’s become, or why she lets him hurt her.

Neither of them is completely innocent. Neither is totally guilty. Marc is taller, stronger, and more vicious, haunted by a war he can’t forget. But he has no idea what Debs is capable of when her children’s lives are at stake…

My Review

It’s just a book! Only fiction. But somehow Nasty Little Cuts is so much more. How can you get stressed over a work of fiction I hear you ask? Believe me, you can.

Having had a terrible nightmare, Debs wakes up in the middle of the night to find an intruder in her kitchen. Only it’s not an intruder – it’s her husband Marc. And he’s holding a knife. And so the real nightmare begins.

As the night slowly turns into day, the situation becomes more dangerous. Marc seems deranged, crazed with drink and drugs. The children are asleep upstairs. Does he mean to harm them all? I was holding my breath at times.

But interspersed with the current timeline, we go back 10 years, two years, 25 years to Deb’s childhood and also Marc’s. We have sympathy for him at times. His mother Jean or Jeanne as she calls herself, was horrible to him, cruel, never let him meet his father Dudley. Then school, the bullying, the army. No wonder he is damaged. But the children? Surely he wouldn’t.

And then we have Debs. Her mam Shirley, a tiny woman with a larger than life personality. A party girl, foul-mouthed, free with her body and her lashings out. But a good mum to her girls, Debs and Kelly. In the only way she knew how. But she never protected them from the terrible things that went on in the pub they lived above. Kelly now her only real friend after their mam died.

We are simply observers, watching the cracks begin and spread, the ‘nasty little cuts’ that Debs and Marc inflict on each other. Two people, too damaged and broken ever to make it work. Get help Debs, get out, save yourself and the children. Don’t go down with the ship.

I don’t think I’ve never read anything quite so visceral. There’s something very personal about it and while it was brilliant, I sometimes dreaded the next chapter. I was so stressed that something terrible was going to happen to Dolly, Pat-Pat or Lulu the dog. This is a book written from the gut as well as the heart.

As someone who writes a lot of short stories, I understand how difficult it is to evoke real emotion, particularly when you are writing in the third person. However, Tina does this so well. There are no holds barred here and some of the language and the abuse may shock some people. This is not for the faint-hearted. Please don’t say there is too much swearing etc because this is real life for many, hard as that may be to stomach. Not the sanitised version we often see.

Yet in spite of the horror, there is also warmth, love and humour. So much humour. It’s a masterpiece.

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole, the author and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable – if again stressful – read.

About the Author

Tina Baker, the daughter of a window cleaner and fairground traveller, worked as a journalist and broadcaster for thirty years and is probably best known as a television critic for the BBC and GMTV. After so many hours watching soaps gave her a widescreen bum, she got off it and won Celebrity Fit Club. She now avoids writing-induced DVT by working as a Fitness Instructor.

Call Me Mummy was Tina’s first novel, inspired by her own unsuccessful attempts to become a mother. Despite the grief of that, she’s not stolen a child – so far. But she does rescue cats, whether they want to be rescued or not.

Nasty Little Cuts is her second novel.

1 Comment on “Nasty Little Cuts by Tina Baker

  1. Pingback: My Top 8 Books of 2022 – part one – Bookchatter@Cookiebiscuit

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