Someone Else’s Skin | Sarah Hilary | 2014| Headline | 408p | Review copy | Buy the book
A terrible crime has been committed, a man left for dead. DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake are determined to put away the culprit for good and to do that they need the support of his sister, a young woman now recovering in a women’s refuge from a violent assault. But Rome and Jake arrive at the refuge just in time to prevent an assault from becoming murder. A man has been stabbed by his wife. Violence has once again found these women and the repercussions will be shocking. However, Marnie Rome knows all about bloody crime. Five years ago an act took place that changed her entire life for good and its ramifications are still keenly felt and can’t help but affect her handling of this case, perhaps even helping her.
Recently, I had the good fortune to read No Other Darkness, the second Rome novel by Sarah Hilary which is published later this April (review to follow). I loved it and was glad of the opportunity to work backwards and read Sarah’s highly acclaimed debut Someone Else’s Skin. My initial reluctance to read this novel had been because of its subject matter – domestic violence. This is one of those themes that I prefer to avoid. But having discovered how fine a writer Sarah Hilary is and wanting to learn more about DI Marnie Rome, I was ready to put this stumbling block behind me. I’m so glad I did.
For half of Someone Else’s Skin we may well believe that we know where it is heading. We have been drawn into the stories of the women in the refuge and we care deeply for Marnie Rome as she works through her feelings for the tragedy in her own life, finally establishing some kind of relationship with those around her who care for her. But then comes the lightning bolt and from that moment on the novel changes, everything is turned on its head, the pace quickens and the book becomes unputdownable. The female characters in particular are intriguingly complex and through them the author treats an important theme with impressive sensitivity and insight.
Sarah Hilary is such a good writer, assured and strong. Her characters are complex and distinct. Marnie Rome is well matched by her DS Noah Jake, a young gay man who is trying to work out his rather unpredictable, sometimes controversial but effective DI. The plot is both disturbing and thrilling. As a whole, I found Someone Else’s Skin to be superb – twisty, heartfelt, exciting, worrying and confident. I love Sarah Hilary’s voice and having read and enjoyed No Other Darkness I now know that this is no one off, that she is a reliable, exciting author whose books I shall seek out during the years to come.