I was thrilled to receive a copy of this, the latest in the DI Marnie Rome series, from the publishers Headline as Sarah Hilary really has bought something quite special to a genre which already has plenty of sub-genres. This series is not quite a police procedural, there is far too much detail about the perpetrators and victims thoughts, hopes and fears in her books for that, but nor is a full on psychological thriller, as there is the ever-present police work with its procedures and methodology, although refreshingly, not so much about police politics to fit into that category, but hey wherever these books fit, I love them.
Tastes Like Fear didn’t disappoint in any way at all although I was a little wary when I read the synopsis as the words teenagers and harm jumped out at me, but I needn’t have worried because of course Sarah Hilary has tackled the subject of teenage runaways without resorting to endless descriptions of excessive violence, not that this book is all nicey-nicey, but I really got the feeling that this is a book that will take you behind the headlines, to the reality of life as a teen in the UK (and probably many other places in the world too.)
As in the previous two books there are multiple strands of plot as Marnie Rome and her partner DS Noah Jakes are off trying to find out who the girl was that caused a fatal traffic accident by running out into the road half-dressed. With two sets of casualties from the car accident, a missing runaway girl what the pair don’t need is a body found in a show-room apartment at Battersea Power Station. Just working out how whoever killed the girl could get into the building is a big enough puzzle. And that’s without the personal issues that both are facing with their brothers. These storylines subtly intersect with the other strands of the novel enhancing the story without taking over the investigation into a number of missing girls in the Bristol area.
One of the best things about this series is that it is firmly set in the present time; the author covers subjects as wide as gangs terrorising a council estate along with the misplaced teenagers who are disenfranchised for a whole variety of reasons, and not those that we instantly think of. The way some of our young people need to hide in a world where privacy isn’t always possible. With all the secondary characters as finely drawn as the chief protagonists, this is one book where I didn’t doubt for one moment that the story which was unfolding before my eyes could happen, the mark of a truly skilled writing by Sarah Hilary.
Although the reader has an insight into where the girls are and what is happening in their lives through short excerpts that doesn’t mean that this is a book without a mystery and nor is it one without action, I found myself gripping the book tightly as the ending got nearer and everything began to become clear.
This is an outstanding read, one I would recommend to anyone who likes intelligent crime fiction, this is a book that made me think about those who evade our eyes in the busy modern world. Although I’m sure this would work well-enough as a stand-alone read, you will be missing out if you don’t experience this series from the beginning.
I’d like to thank the publishers Headline who sent me a proof copy of Tastes Like Fear prior to publication on 7 April 2016. This review is my thank you to them.
Previous books in the series: