Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Come and Find Me – Sarah Hilary

Crime Fiction

By book five in this series featuring DI Marnie Rome you’d have thought I could come up with something a little more eloquent than ‘even better than the last one,’ but I can’t – and it is. I do love books that can be read on more than one level, and Sarah Hilary has produced just such a book in Come and Find Me.

For those that haven’t followed the series DI Marnie Rome is a single-minded police officer, scarred and yet spurred on to deliver justice by the murder of her parents by her younger foster brother Stephen. We have seen her battle Stephen for the truth of why he did it to no real avail and now, there has been a riot at the prison where Stephen is being held.

Michael Vokey the man at the centre of the riot has disappeared leaving in his wake a trail of destruction with several prisoners in hospital and the rest seemingly mute on the subject. As Michel Vokey was imprisoned for an assault on a young woman with her child present, DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake are on the team to find him and put him back behind bars but they are struggling to find leads.

In between the police investigation we hear the thoughts from one of the prisoners, in a coma in hospital. His appreciation for the nurse who cleans him and cares for him despite the fact that he is in fact chained to the bed, in a room by himself. These excerpts slowly build into a picture of not only what happened the day of the riot, but the events that led up to it.

The most obvious theme in this book is that of obsession. We have DI Marni Rome’s obsession with her brother, the women who wrote to Michael Vokey display another type of obsession as does the prison officer who was unwisely interviewed about the riot. But the other theme is the relationship between mothers and their sons, and vice versa. This is an interesting one as the mothers and sons who fall into this category are all varied and yet they have something in common. In addition to that the book once again turns to the reality of a psychopath, a man (or woman) with some part of their personality missing, someone who has to learn how to behave by copying others. All fascinating stuff, well-developed enough on the page to make the reader think, but in no way presented as a lecture, my favourite type of reading matter.

All of the themes are only possible because of the depth of characterisation that Sarah Hilary provides. These are real people, we may not like many of them, but it’s hard to ignore the prospect that they could exist. The author goes out of her way with the descriptions of prison to lump all prisoners into one easy bucket, there are nuances to their behaviour, and offending, that raises this author’s work head and shoulders above much of the competition. This is crime fiction with a level of complexity that makes for really satisfying reading.

I’d like to thank the publishers Headline for allowing me to read a copy of Come and Find Me prior to publication on 22 March 2018. This review is my unbiased thanks to them and to Sarah Hilary for another riveting tale.

Previous books in the DI Marnie Rome Series:

Someone Else’s Skin
No Other Darkness
Tastes Like Fear
Quieter than Killing

First Published UK: 22 March 2018
Publisher: Headline
No of Pages: 368
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Tastes Like Fear – Sarah Hilary


Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction

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:

Someone Else’s Skin
No Other Darkness

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

No Other Darkness – Sarah Hilary

Crime Fiction  5*'s
Crime Fiction

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.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Someone Else’s Skin – Sarah Hilary

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this new crime novel, after all it takes something quite spectacular to live up to the billing ‘the crime debut of the year’ especially as it is only February!

To begin with we have the DI, Marnie Rome who has a troubled past. So far so normal for a crime novel, but in her case her back story include murdered parents which has left her determined to succeed in her job, although her personal life seems a little bleak. Her partner is DS Noah Jake, a Jamaican and gay, this presents no problems except with DS Ron Carling who is the macho policeman. However this is much more than a formulaic police procedural, this book is as much about why some of the crimes are committed as it is about how they were, and who did it.

Desperate to bolster their case against a suspect, DI Rome and DS Jake visit a woman’s refuge; they need the resident to make a statement about her treatment at his hands and walk in to find a man lying stabbed on the floor. The action starts with a bang but this turns out to be a nightmare of a case to investigate, the women are far from ideal witnesses but DI Rome is determined to find answers.

Set mainly in London in the present day with enough local references to anchor the reader, I would love to visit Marnie’s favourite café which sells French toast with cutlery warm and wrapped in a thick linen. There is a little jumping back in time mainly in relation to Marnie’s past but also a few excerpts from an unknown man set six months previously. These are all clearly headed so there is no risk of confusion.

This is just the sort of book I enjoy, there are so many different stories all playing out; those of Marnie, Noah, the social worker Ed and the female residents have clear personalities and stories to tell without slowing down the pace or preventing a bucketful surprises along the way. I lovely a book that makes you gasp and this one did. I literally worked out one bit of the puzzle a page before the reveal and it still shocked me. Not bad for someone has read as many crime novels as I have.

This was a brilliant read and I do hope this isn’t the last we hear of DI Rome as I for one thoroughly loved this protagonist as well as the reassurance that the crime genre still has a lot to offer its readers. For once I don’t think the publisher’s have got their claims wildly wrong!

I was extremely lucky to receive a free copy of this book from Lovereading as I am on their reviewing panel.  Someone Else’s Skin will be published by Headline on 27 February 2014.

Someone Else’s Skin – Amazon UK