After giving Tina Baker’s ‘Call Me Mummy’ a 5* review and making it one of my ‘Best Books of 2021’ I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her second novel ‘Nasty Little Cuts’ and when I did I was absolutely not disappointed.

Before I review it I do need to tell you that it is 100% not for the faint-hearted, or for those who are likely to be negatively affected or triggered by reading about abuse. If it’s a happy, cozy, little Sunday afternoon read you’re after, then this is not the book you’re looking for. There are difficult themes running through it, including domestic abuse, child abuse, strong violence and emotional manipulation. It’s a traumatic, dark and fiercely real book – you can feel the energy running through you as you read it, so if you want a book that makes you feel like you’ve been put through a mangle, but actually, weirdly kind of enjoyed it – then grab a copy and settle down for the day. I doubt you’ll surface again until you’ve reached the end.

It’s Christmas Eve morning, early hours and Marc has arrived home in a state, bringing Debbie downstairs to see what is going on. She very quickly realises this was a BAD decision. They are at a pivotal point in their marriage – a marriage they probably shouldn’t have entered into, but one that has nonetheless borne 2 children, an adorable rescue dog, a whole load of bad feeling, sex play that feels like it’s gone too far on occasion and ultimately, abuse and domestic violence. It’s a situation you think initially has been created by two pretty awful people, but then the author turns it all on its head and invites you to peek into the background of this broken and traumatised couple and see into their history – how and where it all went wrong, which turns out to be long before they actually met. What she doesn’t do, is use this sympathy to make it OK. She makes you sympathise with them and understand why they are the way they are, yet then makes them behave in such a reprehensible way that you are completely torn between sympathy for the ‘why’, and disgust for the ‘what’. It’s hard to read because it repeatedly questions your perception of Debbie and Marc as a couple and as individuals and continually challenges how you feel about either, or both of them. What is obvious is that everyone in that house, on the morning before Christmas, is in danger.

It’s a sad story of the devastating cycle of abuse and how sometimes, there are just no winners.

Tina is such a talented, and clever author – just when you get comfortable with your feelings and your perceptions, she throws something unexpected in, and pulls the rug out from under you. Her writing is explicit, raw and poignant. She uses bad language like the weapon it can be and knows when to throw a line in that clutches at the heartstrings; the dog watches nervously from her basket during a particularly heated and nasty exchange and you jump from anger at the words being spat to fear for the little dog in a split second. Absolutely brilliant and a big 5 stars from me.

Thanks to both Netgalley and The Pigeonhole for inviting me to read an ARC. 

5 stars

About the Author: Tina Baker

Tina Baker: crime queen and social media superstar

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.

Follow Tina on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok: @tinabakerbooks