The Chicken Soup Murder

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Michael had a nice life before the Bulls moved in next door, in the little town near the sea with its magic hills and the three pebble-dashed semis in a long arc. Three happy homes each with a long garden… Part crime fiction, part murder mystery, part meditation on grieving, friendship and family, Maria Donovan’s debut novel, The Chicken Soup Murder, is a coming-of-age story narrated with resilience and humour by Michael, whose cosy young life is threatened by bullying and blasted by visitations from the biggest bully of them all: Death. 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 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 the friend and neighbour who apparently died while making him chicken soup. Bereavement is hard enough but there are added difficulties in coming to terms with the deliberate ending of a life. As Michael struggles to help himself and the people he cares for to move on, he learns about acceptance and grief, and what happens to those who are left behind when a loved one dies, whether from natural or unnatural causes. But when it comes to dealing with murder the usual rules of grieving don’t apply. And nothing can be resolved until the murderer is found… A sensitive and moving first novel from the author of short-story collection Pumping Up Napoleon (Seren 2007) The Chicken Soup Murder was a finalist for the Dundee International Book Prize.


Maria Donovan has published a collection of flash fiction, Tea for Mr Dead (Leaf, 2006) and a collection of short stories, Pumping Up Napoleon (Seren, 2007). Her work includes stories set in Wales commissioned for anthologies such as Sing, Sorrow, Sorrow (Seren, 2010) The Wish Dog and other stories (Honno, 2014) and New Welsh Short Stories (Seren, 2015). ‘My Cousin’s Breasts’ was shortlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize and ‘My Own CVA’ was a prizewinner in a competition run by The Lancet. The title story of her collection, ‘Pumping Up Napoleon’, was picked by Carol Ann Duffy to be published in Mslexia. Her flash fiction story ‘Chess’ won the Dorset Prize in the Bridport Prize 2015. Her work has been recorded by BBC Radio Wales for broadcast on Radio 4 and around Europe. The Chicken Soup Murder is her first novel.