Headline | 2017 | 416p | Review copy | Buy the book
A harsh winter has London in its frozen grip. Better to stay indoors, particularly during the long, dark nights. But danger is walking the streets. Men and women are being viciously attacked. The assaults seem random but the injuries and scars appear to be telling a different story. Even more worryingly, a young child has been kidnapped but is only reported missing weeks later. And then DI Marnie Rome’s tenants are violently assaulted in Marnie’s childhood home. Very little was stolen but what there was suggests that the thieves are sending Marnie a very personal message, one that goes back to another crime committed in that house, a crime that changed her life forever. Puzzlingly, it appears that the robbers may well have been children. But who told them what to steal? Not for the first time, Marnie Rome feels watched, scrutinised, judged.
Quieter than Killing is the fourth in Sarah Hilary’s Marnie Rome series and it demonstrates yet again why this series is among the very best being written today. The crimes at the novel’s heart are ingenious and compelling from the very first page but they are matched by the extraordinary and involving lives of Marnie Rome and her DS, Noah Jake. It is impossible not to care for these people. They always appear real – their thoughts, feelings, fears and desires are vividly portrayed. Their relationships have depth. And so much drama and suspense!
I would really recommend that you read the other three books in the series first, just so that you can properly appreciate what Marnie in particular has had to endure and still endures. But, having said that, Quieter than Killing, as with the other novels, fills the reader in very quickly and the writing is of such high quality that you’re soon left in no doubt about the significance of what has happened before.
I think that some detective fiction can tread a fine line between back history and present crimes. It isn’t always successful, especially if it intrudes too much on the mystery at hand. There are no such issues here. These novels are every bit as much about Marnie and Noah as they are about anything else and this is never hidden.
And, as usual, there are big themes to haunt the reader and drive them relentlessly through the pages. Here we have child cruelty, parenting, retribution, justice and innocence. It’s darkly done, tragic in places, and the charged atmosphere is maintained throughout. It is utterly engrossing!
Sarah Hilary is a brilliant writer – of plot, character and mood. I stopped reading crime fiction for quite a few years for one reason or other and Sarah Hilary was one of the principal reasons why I took it up again and now love it so much. This is storytelling at its finest. I can’t resist it.