The narrator of this tale is a young girl, the eponymous Mary Sutherland, who lived in Aigburth and who had family in Birkenhead. I grew up in Birkenhead so her voice was immediately recognisable.
The book starts with a TV crew coming to interview Mary who is in an institution. Mary then tells the story in her own words of how she ended up in the institution, and why she seems to be obsessed with rats. The trouble started when her mother got sick.
Farrell is great at creating suspense and you know that it doesn’t end well, but you don’t know exactly why until right the last moment. It was an effective little plot tightly told in 170 odd pages.
I didn’t think the framing device (of the TV interview) was needed personally and there was an occasional lapse in voice but overall this is a well-written book.