Across three novels, Sarah Hilary has slowly peeled back the layers on the complex relationship between DI Marnie Rome and her foster-brother (who at the age of fourteen killed their parents). Now with Quieter Than Killing, the dynamic between these two clash to such an extent that afterwards, neither of them will ever be the same.

As has become a bit of a trademark of Sarah Hilary’s writing style, Quieter Than Killing features several storylines running in parallel – many of which will eventually converge to delight readers with the author’s ingenuity. First, there is the case of a home invasion and assault that takes place in Marnie’s old family home – which she now rents out – that inexplicably, seems tied to Marnie’s incarcerated foster-brother. Intertwined here is the involvement of teenage gangs throughout London. The novel also features a sub-plot involving Finn, a young boy who appears to have been kidnapped and locked away for some undisclosed purpose.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Sarah Hilary novel without some dramatic developments for Marnie’s police partner, DS Noah Jake. Once again, Noah is forced to confront difficult truths about his brother Sol – things he cannot really stay quiet about, even if it means betraying his brother’s trust. Meanwhile, an attack during their current investigation leaves Noah shaken to the core.

Running through all this is a consistent theme concerning how the ramifications of a troubled childhood extend long into the future. It is almost impossible to know how individual scars will manifest themselves later in life – and it most definitely is different for each person – but rest assured that the effects must rear their ugly head at some point. Suffice to say, it is a rare case where such a development has solely positive aspects.

Sarah Hilary writes short, intense chapters – virtually yanking readers along behind them as they gallop over the pages. This, along with the unexpected plots twists and turns, make Quieter Than Killing virtually the poster-child for compulsively readable crime fiction. This is not a novel you want to begin if you have pressing matters to attend to – such as sleeping or eating.

Readers new to the series would benefit from reading the previous books in the series. While Quieter Than Killing is easy to follow and Sarah Hilary does a commendable job of orienting new readers, the backstory within the Rome family is intricate enough that some familiarity with it would work to elicit more emotional impact in the end. Since it looks like that particular over-arching plotline is headed to a climax in the near future, getting up to speed now is sure to pay off.

In a series that represents some of the best of today’s crime fiction, Quieter Than Killing finds Sarah Hilary at the top of her game. These books deserve a wider audience, so please, if you haven’t yet met Marnie and Noah, do yourself a favor and buy one of Sarah Hilary’s books.


Disclaimer: A print ARC 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.