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Radio 2 Book Club - The List of Suspicious Things

The next book to be featured on the Zoe Ball Radio 2 Book Club will be The List of Suspicious Things, the wonderful debut novel by Jennie Godfrey. The book is released on 15 February, and the full interview with Jennie and Zoe will be on BBC Sounds on Tuesday 6 February.

We have an exclusive extract available for you to read, and we have a set of 10 gorgeous final proof copies of the novel to give away to one of our lucky reading groups! Just visit our Noticeboard.

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The List of Suspicious Things

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?

Selection panel review

The book was selected with the help of a panel of library staff from across the UK. Our readers loved The List of Suspicious Things – here are some of their comments:

“I totally loved it – a coming of age tale taking me back to that era. The characters were so well-rounded and written, the effect the crimes had on the community was so well depicted as were how lots of issues (mental health, domestic violence) were dealt with in the 70s/80s. GREAT GREAT GREAT – I want to read it again!”

“This book is a total gem! Set in Yorkshire during the late 70s/early 80s 12 year old Miv isn’t having an easy time. Not only is the Yorkshire Ripper on the loose but closer to home her mum is suffering from depression and is absent from her life and her dad is thinking of moving them away. To distract from her troubles and to feel useful and grown up, Miv and her friend Sharon embark on a quest to catch the Ripper and start to investigate people in the local community. I thought this was such a clever premise and it really is brilliantly executed. Through Miv and Sharon’s investigation, we meet the characters that make up the local community and learn of their troubles and secrets. There is a strong sense of place and time in the book and although I grew up a little later than the setting, I really felt a sense of nostalgia. Deals with a lot of different difficult themes such as racism, bullying, depression that would make for rich discussions.”

“This book has a difficult setting. Everyday life in a West Yorkshire town, under the growing shadow of the Yorkshire Ripper’s crimes. It’s a great read, told from the perspective of 12/13 year old Miv, a girl with lots of issues, a very active imagination, and great determination. Miv and her best friend Sharon explore clues which might lead to the identification of the perpetrator. In doing so we get a clear picture of their local life in the late 1970s – bleak poverty, racism, sexism, domestic violence, and an all consuming greyness. But Miv pushes against all of this, and in a roundabout way she surfaces issues that need resolving. There is drabness, tension, and humour in this lovely and compelling novel, and there is also tragedy. And, as a fellow Yorkshire person, I have to say that the author almost got the dialect right!”

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.

Get involved

Tune in to the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show to hear the live features for all the books. You can also listen to the full-length interview on BBC Sounds.

Have you read The List of Suspicious Things? You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #R2BookClub.

You can also follow Jennie.

Planning to buy The List of Suspicious Things for your group? Buy books from Hive or from and support The Reading Agency and local bookshops at no extra cost to you.

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