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. He screams in his sleep. And Debs hardly recognises the person she’s become, or why she lets him hurt her. Neither of them is 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…
Hi and welcome to my review of Nasty Little Cuts!
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I never even read the synopsis properly before requesting Nasty Little Cuts on NetGalley. Call Me Mummy was such a surprise, such a fantastic debut, that I never doubted that whatever Tina Baker had come up with next would be awesome and I needed to read it.
Nasty Little Cuts didn’t disappoint, I had a great time with it! That is, if you consider that getting so thoroughly pissed off at a character that you’d happily punch their lights out counts as having a great time, which, fortunately, I do!
Nasty Little Cuts kicks off on Christmas Eve morning. (I started this just before Christmas and I thought: oh fun, an unexpected Christmassy read! Yeah, no, it’s not. Like, AT ALL.) At silly o’clock in the morning, Debs wakes up from a dream turned nightmare, unaware that her real nightmare has yet to begin.
Entering the kitchen, she finds her husband Marc, holding a knife and apparently gone completely off his rocker. This kicks off what is probably the longest morning in the history of time, with the tension and the violence slowly rising until I wanted to throw my Kobo out the window cos I needed the release. I didn’t cos I love my Kobo but also, I had to know how this bloody morning would end! When daylight finally breaks, who would still be standing?!
In addition to these present-day events, Nasty Little Cuts takes us back and forth in time, allowing us to explore the protagonists’ histories and their various relationships, first and foremost as a couple, but also Debs’ close bond with her sister and mother, and Marc’s complicated relationship with his mother. While it does jump back and forth a lot, it never gets confusing and most importantly, it allows for small, often rather eye-opening reveals along the way while enabling the reader to see the bigger picture.
To my mind, the title Nasty Little Cuts refers at least in part to a death by a thousand cuts, that’s what Debs’ story reminded me of. Without going into too much detail, if abuse and gaslighting are difficult for you to read about, steer clear of Nasty Little Cuts. But this is definitely the one for you if you like to get invested in well-fleshed-out, well-rounded characters and love going through a whole range of emotions while reading a book. Seriously, name an emotion and I most likely felt it while reading Nasty Little Cuts.
Nasty Little Cuts is a tense and layered domestic thriller with an excellent build-up that I’d happily recommend to fans of the genre who don’t mind a bit of swearing.
Nasty Little Cuts is out today in digital formats and hardcover, happy publication day to Tina Baker!
Huge thanks to Viper Books and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are still my own.