She does not take her eyes off the knife.
Tina Baker ~ Nasty Little Cuts
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..
Kitchens are the hub of the home, the place the family comes together to cook, eat and do homework. Yet for all of their cosy atmosphere, they’re also dangerous places. Fire, sharp knives, chemicals… who knows what could happen?
This has never been clearer than in Nasty Little Cuts. A husband and wife face each other in the kitchen, swiping at each other, both verbally and physically until the end.
There’s a lot to like about this book: it’s pacey, thrilling and nerve-wracking – I spent most of it on edge, terrified that something bad would happen to the dog or children. Baker weaves a gripping story of broken promises, traumatic childhoods and reckless ambition.
The contrast between their early – almost routine – life and the sudden situation Debs finds herself in works well and keeps the tension high as we see the collapse of their marriage. The day-to-day lives may not be anything special, but even though we empathise with Debs’ frustration at losing her independence in exchange for laundry and tidying up, her deep love for her children really comes across.
We also see the back stories of both Marc and Debs. Each has their own bad memories, yet the way they have dealt with it is very different. Although there is almost too much trauma, it provides a dramatic undertone as the book moves towards its climax.
None of the adult characters are particularly endearing; if anything, they’re all detestable in one way or another. But the children and Lulu the dog are wonderful. With chapters told from different characters’ perspectives, we see the story unfold and are reminded how different people’s lives can appear when viewed through another’s eyes.
The ending, although not entirely a surprise, is still sad and shocking. Lives are destroyed and once again we are left asking ourselves what we would do if faced with a similar situation…
Nasty Little Cuts is published by Viper Books. Thanks to the author for my copy. Opinions my own.