One of the things, and there were many, that I loved about Sarah Hilary’s debut novel was it took a fairly common issue and went far beyond the obvious whilst simultaneously giving the reader a complex and well-written crime mystery to explore. No Other Darkness is no different although the issue chosen is not as common-place as domestic violence it isn’t so rare to be unheard of.
The mystery starts with the bodies of two young boys found buried in a bunker in a garden by the owner of the house, a father of two young boys and it isn’t long before DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jakes are called to take a look. This is a harrowing story line made more so because we are given a view of the boys last days from the viewpoint of the eldest boy. The detective’s first job is to find out who the boys were and then how they came to be placed in the bunker and by whom The investigation is led by Marnie with her team including DS Ron Carling who is more office based as he looks for leads starting with Missing Persons and the expert help from Fran the pathologist who looks at soil samples and the like.
As in Someone Else’s Skin the author skilfully gives the reader all the clues but allows enough gaps for the wrong conclusion to be reached, time and again as no sooner was one of my theories disproved there was another incorrect assumption to be made. In addition to her other skills this author sets the pace just right, with some contemplative investigation which ends up with an edge-of-your seat action packed finale.
I am a lover of series as I do like the mix of a story arc and current investigation and Sarah Hilary keeps the balance just right with the character’s lives adding to the story with the reader given more information about Marnie Rome’s traumatic background. Noah’s character is also developed and we learn more about his background too and his brother Sol but these strands of the characters’ lives are used to add shades to the story rather than overshadowing it or giving information that has no connection to the case in hand. For once we have a couple of detectives (and a team) which are admirable, there are few of the politics that tend to dominate this genre and despite her background Marnie Rome’s past only serves to underline how ‘normal’ she is for this genre, yes bad things have happened but she is still a compassionate detective who doesn’t allow the past to overshadow her current investigation although she is aware of any comparisons.
If you too are looking for something more in-depth than a simple police procedural then this series is well-worth following and whilst I think this book could easily be read as a stand-alone, you would be seriously missing out if you don’t start at the beginning. I’d like to say a huge thank you to Sarah Hilary who sent me a copy of this book which I had to hide out of sight in a cupboard so that I could read and review it close to the publication date of 23 April 2015.
Sarah Hilary lives in Bath with her daughter, where she writes quirky copy for a well-loved travel publisher. She’s also worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. An award-winning short story writer, Sarah won the Cheshire Prize for Literature in 2012. Her debut novel SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN has been selected as a Richard & Judy Autumn 2014 Book Club pick.