Last year, Sarah Hilary burst into the arena of crime fiction with her excellent debut novel, Someone Else’s Skin. People certainly noticed and quickly the critical acclaim and award wins began to pile up. Now with the release of her second novel in the Detective Inspector Marnie Rome mystery series, Hilary is about to confirm that she is the new superstar on the scene.
No Other Darkness once again features Marnie Rome, her partner Noah Jake, and the rest of her investigative team. If readers can get past the incredibly creepy cover design, they will find another well-crafted crime drama that might arguably be better than the first.
The novel wastes no time in setting up the plot. After a brief prologue, the bodies of two young boys are found in an underground bunker in a secluded London neighborhood. Forensics determines that they have been there for about five years, meaning just around the time that the neighborhood was being developed. The owners of the home where the bodies are found have two young children, so they are understandably distressed by the discovery. And when those children go missing, Marnie and Noah begin to suspect that something much more serious is happening.
Having both crimes related to siblings in distress allows Sarah Hilary to once again dig into the pasts of both Marnie and Noah. Fans of the first book will remember that Marnie has a strained – to say the least – relationship with her step-brother, who happens to be in jail for killing her parents. Noah Jake’s relationship with his brother, Sol, is also far from perfect and No Other Darkness goes into more details about why that is the case.
The plot of Someone Else’s Skin involved domestic abuse victims and revealed to readers that Sarah Hilary had a level of compassion that is not always evident in other crime writers – or in their work. No Other Darkness is no different. This time, her topics of reflection include the foster care system, prison rehabilitation, Gypsies, and the growing number of Preppers throughout the United Kingdom. How these various topics blend together will have to be revealed as you read, but always Sarah Hilary manages to shine an empathetic light on each.
Sarah Hilary excels at writing characters in crisis. Every person in the novel – from Marnie Rome to the most minor secondary characters – feels fully developed and worthy of reader’s attention. Hilary is one of those novelists who craft short chapters which end either in a cliffhanger moment or a strong transition. This technique keeps readers turning the pages and makes consuming the entire book seem effortless.
We all long to be safe and to keep those we love out of harm’s way, but with No Other Darkness, Sarah Hilary outlines how taking that to the extreme can go horribly wrong. Given the strength of this second novel, readers can pretty much count on the fact that Sarah Hilary is going to be producing quality crime fiction for years to come. And that is reason enough to celebrate.
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.