This is the second book I’ve read this year that is set during the miner’s strike in 1984, the first being Your Beautiful Lies by Louise Douglas and it is odd to think that this is the first big news story that I was really aware of as a teenager and it is now history!
In This Little Piggy the backdrop of the miner’s strike is ever-present on the Sweetmeadows Estate where many of the men are striking miners, and those that have broken the strike are derided in public and hounded in private. The police are wary of the residents for this very reason but they have no choice but to become involved when baby James is found dead near the bins but they struggle to find a motive let alone a suspect for the killing of a baby.
Claire Jackson is a reporter on the local paper and having lost out on the chief reporter’s job has recently been assigned to the outlying district covering Sweetmeadows estate and colliery and she is quickly outperforming her colleagues ringing in copy from telephone boxes as the stories keep tumbling out. During her time getting to know the residents in a bid to get the next story she comes across nine year old Amy who has an interesting story to tell about the day of the murder. Claire soon becomes worried about Amy whose mother is seemingly absent for much of the time and with Amy having ambitions to be a reporter she soon takes far more responsibility for her than she should or is wise.
I liked Claire despite wincing at some of the choices she makes along the way and her sidekick Joe was on of a selection of strong secondary characters in this book. The plotting was good with a number of elements woven throughout the hunt for the murderer which never strayed far from the time the book was set in. Bea Davenport managed to set the time period very well without overburdening us with a multitude of references, those that were included were well-placed and felt natural. I did guess what had happened although I had doubts whether my hunch was correct until we were almost upon the denouement of this particular drama.
On the whole this was a very believable if somewhat unexpectedly creepy read with the story told entirely from Claire’s journalistic perspective which included her back story as well as the ongoing dramas at the newspaper. This made a refreshing change from the detective’s viewpoint which gives the reader a chance to see and hear far more from those who are on the periphery of the investigation, although nonetheless effected by it, than is usual.
I have a copy of Bea Davenport’s novel In Too Deep on my kindle and I won’t be waiting too long to read this one now.
I’d like to thank the publishers Legend Press for allowing me to read this book in return for my honest review. This Little Piggy will be published on 1 October 2014