Although No Other Darkness isn’t out until April 23rd, we managed to get our hands on an advanced copy and our go-to crime fiction fan in the team couldn’t wait to tear into it. Finishing the book in next to no time, here she shares some of her thoughts on the next instalment in the DI Marnie Rome series.
Pros: Unpredictable. Suspenseful. Strong characters.
Cons: Tough subject matter. Weak scenic descriptions at times.
No Other Darkness opens with the discovery of an underground bunker at the end of the garden. The house is newly built and belongs to a seemingly normal family. The father and their intrigued gardener open the manhole cover to discover a grizzly scene; the corpses of two young children cuddled together, who have been dead for over four years. The investigating officers write it off as a cold case, but the tenacious DI Marnie Rome is determined to get to the bottom of it and lay the youngsters to rest with the help of her partner DS Noah Jake. And as the story unravels it becomes clear that this case is anything but cold.
This was a compelling read from the first page, the story was clearly well planned and the introduction of a variety of suspicious characters made it completely unpredictable – I couldn’t trust anyone! The book is written in the first person narrative but we change to a different character’s perspective from chapter to chapter, allowing us to experience the story through the eyes of all the key characters. And as previously unknown characters tell their story, there’s a sense of mystery and suspense as we try to work out their place in the narrative. It’s all cleverly done and well structured so I didn’t find myself lost or confused at any point, despite the switches in character.
The plot deals with a huge range of emotions and some very raw issues that can be challenging to read about. I found that Sarah handled them very delicately and she actually opened my eyes to aspects of mental health that I had previously been unaware of. The way that the character who is suffering from mental health problems was presented felt very realistic and truly made the depths of despair that people can find themselves in hit home. And so despite everything that happens, I felt huge amounts of sympathy for her.
I couldn’t review No Other Darkness without mention of Sarah’s first book ‘Someone Else’s Skin’, which is the first book to feature DI Marnie Rome, the main inspector on the case. Although we do not need to have read the first book to follow this one, there are some references to past experiences in DI Rome’s life that fans of the first book will be interested in. DI Rome is an excellent lead character and was my favourite throughout the book. She offers just the right balance of tough background, emotional turmoil and determination to solve the case that gets the reader behind her. She often glimpses into a past that mirrors some of the issues within the story, driving both the reader and the character’s urge to solve the case. As with many fictional detectives, Marnie’s dedication to her job often results in her throwing herself into dangerous situations, although this just made me really respect her strength and fight.
Overall I thought the book was great – I could not put it down and when I knew I would have the chance to sit down and read it I was excited to know what would happen next. I particularly liked the character development through the changing perspectives, and I felt that the brave theme of the book is one that isn’t often tackled and so it was refreshing to read something different. If there was anything that I would change, it would be to have more description of the settings. A lot of the action takes place in underground bunkers and at times I struggled to picture the environment and the experience of being down there.
I would recommend this book to any avid crime and thriller reader, the twists and turns will keep you guessing throughout and the final twist at the end will have many readers in shock – I certainly wasn’t expecting it! I feel that DI Marnie Rome has a lot more to offer and I hope Sarah Hilary will continue to write a fantastic range of novels around the character. Make no mistake, this is not a “feel good” read and there are some tough issues to deal with, but you will be gripped from start to finish.