Source: Review copy
Publication: 24 February 2022 from Viper Books
My thanks to Viper Books for an advance copy for review
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
There’s a very fine line between pain and passion and that’s how I felt when I was reading Tina Baker’s exquisitely written, painful book. It’s traumatic, horrifying to read and yet you can’t tear your eyes away.
Nasty Little Cuts is the anatomy of a marriage forensically dissected with skill and precision by Tina Baker, wielding a razor sharp scalpel.
Debs and Marc were never really well matched. Marc is a city slicker; a man who understands the importance of a good suit, networking and entertaining the right people. His climb up the corporate ladder has been predicated on his study of such things. Debs is a working class girl who has worked hard to develop her PT business. When Marc walked into the gym she admired his physique and she made sure that he saw the best of her attributes as she praised him for his mediocre workout.
In what is a deeply disconcerting and uncomfortable read, Tina Baker takes us through the course of this marriage. We begin in the present, but move back and forth in time and as we learn more about this couple and their relationship, the discomfort only grows, hastened by the situation that is the now of this relationship.
This is spine tingling stuff, reaching back into sad, dysfunctional childhoods, letting us see hear and feel what both Marc and Debs went through in their early years and how their mothers let them down.
It is a sorry story of jealousies, loneliness, resentment and fragility which culminates in one violent, earth-shattering night in which everything goes wrong. Al at once every slight, every barb, every injustice comes back to bite these characters and the result is so raw, so violent, so fucked up that it really hurts.
This is what happens when a toxic relationship goes really bad and it is raw and painful. It is only because it is so well written that I could bear to keep on reading, heart in mouth.
I don’t really want to say more…this is a shocking, beautifully written portrait of a destructive relationship at the peak of meltdown. It burns and scalds with a realistic flame and as you read, you know that, whatever the outcome, nothing good can come from this. The truly awful thing though is that it feels real; the domestic violence is both scary and authentic and I hope to goodness no-one ever has to go through it.
Verdict: Stunning writing elevates this gut-wrenching domestic noir into a well above average thriller.
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. Call Me Mummy is Tina’s first novel.