Tuesday, 23 May 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong by Gina Kirkham

I was looking through Netgalley when this novel caught my eye, and I had to request it just because of the cover. I love funny books, and this looked brilliant. There's a new heroine in town - Constable Mavis Upton - who takes us through her life and career as a police officer in Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong, the wonderful debut by former police officer Gina Kirkham.

Mavis is a young, single mum, and whilst out with her daughter one afternoon, suddenly has an epiphany. Mavis decides there and then that she wants to become a police officer. After filling out the forms, with the help of her hilarious mum, Mavis awaits her fate - and when she gets into the training program, can't believe what she's let herself in for. But she's determined, and as she embarks on the long, rigorous police training course, hilarious moments ensue.

And that's before she steps into the role. As Mavis navigates through the trials that await every new police officer - including some funny mishaps and initiations! - she tries not to let her guard down. But that's almost impossible for Mavis, who is partial to hilarious exploits, and constantly finds herself in embarrassing situations.

As the book goes on, Mavis works her way up through the ranks and years, taking on jobs that range from the downright silly to the highly emotional. Her daughter Ella is getting older, and after a few funny brushes with romance, Mavis finally finds a man that seems perfect for her. With her adoring Mum at her side, it seems as though life is going swimmingly. But then trouble unexpectedly hits their small, close family, and Mavis has to be stronger and braver than ever before.

This book has to be one of the best novels I have read so far. Yes, it's hilarious. In fact, it's so funny that I was giggling out loud numerous times whilst reading this. At 10% through this book it was already the funniest I had read this year. Gina Kirkham's humour is, in my opinion, the best kind; witty, a bit sarcastic, the ability to find the fun in every situation.

Mavis is such a great character. Not only is she someone you'd want to be around for the laughs, but she is strong, determined, and brave. I got that impression of her right away. She is ambitious, holding onto her dream, and even when things often went wrong in police training, Mavis laughed at herself and carried on. (Sorry. Have I mentioned JUST HOW MUCH I LOVE MAVIS?)

As an officer, Mavis is exposed to the funny side (there are plenty of hilarious stories involving thongs, blow-up dolls, drug raids...) and of course, the harrowing, emotional side to the job. As someone who has always secretly dreamed of being a police officer, I loved these chapters, and loved how Mavis reacted and grew as a character throughout her years in the police force. The book follows Mavis over a number of years, from trainee to experienced officer.

And then, the crying happened. I don't want to post spoilers, but there is a part of this book that is truly heartbreaking. It upset me as I read, as it is something that many people will have to go through, but Mavis remained positive throughout. I couldn't help but love her even more.

I find it hard to believe that this is a debut novel; Gina Kirkham is a fantastic writer. Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong may come across as a comedy, and it is - but it's so much more than that. This novel made me genuinely laugh and cry. It's a beautifully positive, uplifting tale full of emotion, warmth and humour, of an everyday woman who wants the best for herself and her family - and refuses to let anything - especially big knickers! - get in her way.

Rating: 5/5

Thank you to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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