This Little Piggy by Bea Davenport

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This Little Piggy by Bea Davenport

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A baby's death devastates a council estate, but do the residents know more than they're letting on? Gripping reading.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: October 2014
Publisher: Legend Press
ISBN: 978-1909878617

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In 1984 I turned two years old, unconcerned by what the miners were up to and more impressed by being served two different drinks at once at my birthday party. I've seen the photos. For Clare Jackson, though, the summer of 1984 changes everything. A small town journalist, she gets the stuff dreams are made of: a murder on her patch, and the murder of a baby, no less. Set against the backdrop of the miners’ strike (the baby belongs to one of the scabs), it’s a tense time on the troubled Sweetmeadows estate and she's not the only one who needs a drink or two (like my 2 year old self) to get through it.

This book gives an intriguing and detailed insight into an era I experienced without remembering. I didn't spot even a single historical inaccuracy, and it reads as if it were written contemporaneously. It seems no big deal that mobile phones don’t exist, that typewriters absorb copy, and that a Walkman is a top birthday present.

Assisting Clare with her inquiries are a number of people, from the local police to fellow journalists and even some of the picket line, but one person stands out more than others. Amy is 9 years old and lives on the estate. With dreams of writing for the papers herself, she quickly attaches herself to Clare and becomes her shadow as they investigate the case together, but does she know more than she’s letting on?

I really enjoyed this book from start to finish, quite an accomplishment when the font is small and the pages are plentiful. I hadn't a clue how it would end up but I'm glad the truth was uncovered at the end. Amy got a bit overly dramatic towards the conclusion, but it added a bit of excitement if nothing else. I felt like a journalist myself as I read this, trying to piece together the evidence and work it all out.

This Little Piggy is about poor people living in poor housing and in poor conditions, and this adds to the bleakness of the story. Child neglect is obvious to Clare, and hard for her to deal with because of something, we can only guess what, that has happened in her own life. I quite liked that there wasn't a holier than thou family popping up on the estate, pretending like they belonged there. Because, the name is clearly a misnomer, and Sweetmeadows is a place of grit, need and raw determination.

I can think of no other book that compares to this in terms of setting, and I appreciated the slant this story took because of that. I spent a lot of time thinking about this book in between chapters and towards the end simply couldn’t put it down, even though that meant reading by torchlight during a car journey, two things I would normally try to avoid.

Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book. We also have a review of The Serpent House by Bea Davenport.

Ghost Child by Caroline Overington is another 80s mystery about the death of a child - completely different, but just as good!

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Buy This Little Piggy by Bea Davenport at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy This Little Piggy by Bea Davenport at


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