Today I am sharing my thoughts on Nasty Little Cuts, the brand new thriller from Tina Baker. I’ve been intrigued to read this book after the author made such an impression on Mandie at Bloody Scotland last year. My thanks to publisher Viper Books for the advance copy for review here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
WHO WILL SURVIVE THE NIGHT?
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…
A powerful exploration of a relationship built on passion, poisoned by secrets and violence. Perfect for readers of Blood Orange and Big Little Lies.
Sometimes the key to survival is knowing when to call time on a relationship. That is certainly true of the marriage of Marc and Debs, the two central protagonists in Tina Baker’s latest book, Nasty Little Cuts. Although the action is centred around the final, fateful, night of their marriage, over the course of the book we are privy to all of the events that from their pasts that slowly ate away at their relationship. The simple but painful little cuts and scars that, if picked at continually, may well become festering wounds. Warning signs that scream at anyone reading get out Debs. But life, is never that simple, and the partnership that the author has constructed and lays bear on these pages is not that simple either.
This is a book that had my emotions, and my opinions, all over the place. I could see the world from both points of view, and even though it is clear that Debs is far more of a victim in this story, Marc’s own history is far from blessed. Tina Baker has brilliantly portrayed the broken man behind this broken marriage in this dark and twisted tale. Because this story really is dark, and the hate a loathing that seeps from the page is deep rooted, and not necessarily seeded from where you might expect.
Debs is an interesting character. There were moments in the book where I struggled to warm to her, where her anger and conviction made her less than sympathetic. And yet, as we learn more about what has driven her to this current state, see how fiercely protective she is of her children and, to a degree, Marc, the more I felt connected to her as a character. Marc is an entirely different case, and throughout much of the story he is portrayed as controlling, violent even, with tendencies and beliefs that almost fit the mould of the classic gaslighting narcissist. But then every character has their own story, and some of the facts that are revealed about Marc, including his relationship with his mother, Jean, are startling and saw my hatred of him waver.
There are some very dark revelations throughout this book, scenes that can shock, brief but no less powerful in their impact. The point of view alternates between Marc and Debs with little warning, but voices are so distinct, so unique, that it is easy to follow. I had an immediate dislike of Jean, of her pretension and clinical distance from her son and her grandchildren, but again, there is hidden sorrow there which takes time to be revealed but goes a long way to explaining why she acts as she does.
This is a tale of the most toxic of relationships. It is highly charged, occasionally shocking, but completely compelling. Both Debs and Marc have a duality of character that evoked sympathy but also, on occasion, hatred, more so the latter for Marc than Deb perhaps. Be prepared for those stark, laid bare moments of emotion that will strike you in the gut, but don’t relax. They will soon be followed by moments of real tension and threat that will have the pulse pounding.
Does the book have a happy ending? Well … you’ll need to read to find out. But for a story which examines the psychology of both aggressor and victim, and. the foten blurring line between the two, it was a satisfying and possibly expected one. If you like a really gritty and dark domestic noir, one that is the complete antithesis of domestic bliss (one I identify with far more easily although not quite this dark) then this book is definitely recommended.
About the Author
Tina Baker was brought up in a caravan after her mother, a fairground traveller, fell pregnant by a window cleaner. After leaving the bright lights of Coalville, she came to London and worked as a journalist and broadcaster for thirty years. She’s probably best known as a television critic for the BBC and GMTV. Nasty Little Cuts is Tina’s second novel.