Headline | 2018 (22 March | 368p | Review copy | Buy the book
A riot at Cloverton prison has left several prisoners fighting for their lives after a fire swept through the cells. One convict, Michael (Mickey) Vokey, has escaped, leaving in his trail two severely maimed prisoners. Detective Inspector Marnie Rome is called in to head up the hunt but, for Marnie, this is personal. One of the prisoners in intensive care is Stephen Keele, her foster brother, the young man who slaughtered her parents but with whom she continues to have ties she cannot break.
Two women, Lara and Ruth, were obsessed with Mickey, regularly sending him letters from the outside world, believing in him, maybe even loving him. Then there’s his sister. When his sister suffers a dangerous fall, Marnie is left in no doubt that the answer to where Mickey is now lies with one of the women in his life. As Marnie builds up a picture of Mickey’s life, desires and crimes, she realises that she is no closer to even knowing what he looked like. Everyone has a different memory or perspective. It’s like chasing shadows. And there is no knowing where they will lead her.
Come and Find Me is the fifth novel in Sarah Hilary’s fantastic Marnie Rome series and, while I have loved each and every one of them, it’s fair to say that this could be my favourite. Come and Find Me is spectacular. The writing is of the highest order, as it always is, but what makes this novel stand out is the sheer quality of its clever plot and the way in which we watch characters unravel before our eyes. Nothing is certain. We need Marnie Rome to explain it to us, we need her insight, her empathy and her eyes. And slowly but surely the truth will be revealed.
This is masterly stuff. We meet several powerful personalities whose words cannot be trusted. Everything is rumour, or it’s told through letters and hearsay. Several of the witnesses are prisoners and they are far from being reliable. But neither are the people who guard them. Who to believe? Who is to say who is innocent and who is guilty? And where is Mickey Vokey?
I love the way that the narrative is structured. For much of the time we follow the investigation by Marnie and Noah, but there are other times when we’re taken into Cloverton and we’re given a picture of life in this intimidating place. Fear thrives in Cloverton and we’re made to feel it.
Marnie Rome is a marvellous character and so too is her partner Detective Sergeant Noah Jake. Jake has a lot on his plate at the moment as well. To understand this fully, you need to have read the other books in the series – this also applies to Marnie’s complicated relationship with Stephen – but this isn’t dealt with heavily. After the last novel I was ready for Noah to have some breathing space and I’m glad to see he finds it here. Likewise, the Marnie and Stephen storyline is treated gently in Come and Find Me. This also means that if you haven’t read any of the other novels you will be able to enjoy Come and Find Me on its own. Although I think you’ll then want to read the others.
The emphasis in Come and Find Me is on this cleverly presented and told investigation, which goes to the heart of one’s assumptions and expectations. There is a wonderful elusiveness to the story, a real mystery to it, and the result is an extremely sophisticated and rewarding novel. Sarah Hilary’s novels are essential reading, in my opinion. It was Sarah Hilary’s books that brought me back to reading crime fiction after years away from it and I look forward to reading them for many more years to come.