A short, seemingly simple, yet complex and rather wonderful novel about a young boy coming to terms with life, death, and everything in-between. Eleven year old Michael believes that a murder has taken place, and he tells his own story. The first sentence sets the scene with dramatic intensity, and left me with the hint of raised eyebrows, the possibility of a smirk. The tale begins the day before the murder, and background information is gradually filled in, allowing the connection to Michael to grow, to be nurtured. Maria Donovan explores sorrow, confusion, anger, friendship and love, all from the viewpoint of an eleven year old, with such thoughtfulness and compassion. I loved getting to know Michael and his companions, he entered my heart, he made me smile, and occasionally wince. ‘The Chicken Soup Murder’ is a thought provoking, yet gentle heartfelt hug of a tale, and a very lovely read indeed.
Michael’s happy early life in a small seaside town – a cosy world of cricket and football, experiences shared with his best friend Janey and her family – is disrupted by the arrival of a bully, and blasted by visitations from Death: the biggest bully of them all. Within Michael’s own past are unanswered questions: why does he live with his grandmother? Are his parents really in prison? His magical creative thinking lands him in trouble: how reliable is his story and why is he the only one who thinks that a murder has been committed? What can he, a schoolboy about to turn twelve, do about it? Haunted by the injustice of a killing, he takes on the burden of trying to do the right thing: first helping the widowed mother of his best friend, and then seeking justice for a murdered woman, as he resorts to making trouble in order to get at the truth. As Michael struggles to help himself and the people he cares for to move on, he learns about the acceptance of the facts of natural death – whether unexpected or predictable, caused by illness or accident. He sees what happens to those left behind when a loved one dies and, above all, how to recognise and overcome the stumbling block formed by the deliberate taking of a life to those who are grieving.
|Publication date:||25th September 2017|
|Publisher:||Seren an imprint of Poetry Wales Press|
|Primary Genre||Crime and Mystery|
Closing date: 31/07/2022
‘Handled with great sensitivity, this has great comedy, exciting developments and very moving moments, right through until the nicely worked solution to the mystery.’ – Daily Mail
‘A thoroughly original, startling, and very good novel indeed.’ – Fay Weldon
‘A beautifully written debut, with characters to fall in love with.’ – Danny Wallace
‘Fresh, suspenseful and tantalising.’ – Christopher Meredith
‘A lovely, warm-hearted novel about love and grief.’ – Francesca Rhydderch
Maria Donovan is a native of Dorset and has strong connections with Wales and Holland. Past career choices include training as a nurse in the Netherlands, busking with music and fire around Europe and nine years as a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glamorgan. Mainly known for her short fiction, including Pumping Up Napoleon and other stories, Maria has now turned her attention to the novel. The Chicken Soup Murder is her debut and it was a finalist for the Dundee International Book Prize.More About Maria Donovan