Come and Find Me is the fifth book in Sarah Hilary’s excellent and vastly under-rated mystery series. Like the others that precede it, this new novel puts DI Marnie Rome and her partner, Noah Jake, through the ringer – both emotionally and physically. However, as painful as it sometimes is, Sarah Hilary fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

Crime fiction fans know that some series settle into a rut and begin to repeat themselves – and in many ways, that is understandable. Writers are always trying to give readers what they want while also trying to flex their creative muscles without straying too far from the tradition they have found successful. With that in mind, one needs to approach Come and Find Me with the mindset of exploration; this is certainly not the same as the previous books, but the reader is ultimately rewarded because of that. In some ways this novel marks a turning-point in the series, yet it still delivers on the two most important fronts: authentic development of the core characters and a richly complex plot that keeps readers glued to the pages.

The novel begins with a prison riot. How and why this rebellion happened remains unclear to the reader (and the authorities), but the net result is that one of the inmates escaped from custody and countless others are either hospitalized or dead. Marnie Rome and Noah Jake are brought in to try to track down Michael Vokey – the prisoner who is now on the run. It turns out that Vokey has been corresponding with a number of women while in prison and he may be seeking to make those relationships more tactile – the only problem is that this is just the sort of thing that got him into trouble in the first place.

As Marnie and Noah interview these women and some other people connected to Michael Vokey, readers become privy to commentary from another prisoner who was injured in the prison riot. In occasional chapters, as he lies in a hospital bed, this man reminisces about his circumstances – both past and present. As Michael Vokey’s cellmate, it is just possible that he knows the man better than anybody – but he is keeping his mouth shut for the moment.

Come and Find Me is a confidently constructed novel. Not unlike the prison that forms its backbone, this novel features meandering hallways, isolated cells, and precarious populations all designed to highlight the central theme of the book. It is rare to see every sub-plot so complimentarily tied to the main action, making the whole thing a version of a house of cards where even one mistake could collapse the entire structure. Fortunately, Sarah Hilary is more than up to the task and does not falter for even a moment.

Beyond the main plot, readers witness Marnie’s continuing struggle to understand why her foster-brother killed their parents. It turns out Stephen was housed in the same prison as the riot. Noah is dealing with the personal and familial ramifications of arresting his own brother at the conclusion of the previous novel – thereby sentencing him to the dangers of prison life. Meanwhile, Noah’s life-partner Dan is curating a collection of art pieces created by prison inmates. The penal system and in particular, prisons, are the recurring theme here and the whole becomes so much more powerful that the sum of these parts.

Sarah Hilary is writing crime novels – there is no question about that – but she is also systematically examining the corrupt institutions and various societal ills that give rise to the cycle of violence plaguing humanity. These novels are never less than entertaining, but are also educationally edifying without becoming pedantic or pontifical. If more people were reading the works of this woman, the world might just be better for it.

BUY LINKS: Come and Find Me by Sarah HIlary


Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.