I picked up Sarah Hilary's debut (and award winning) novel, Someone Else's Skin last year and thought it was fantastic. Hilary's second novel, No Other Darkness is newly released - and just as fantastic.
Detective Inspector Marnie Rome returns - and this latest case is a doozy. A homeowner in a newer subdivision is digging in his back garden when he uncovers the entrance to an old underground bunker. But what he finds inside is heartbreaking - two small skeletons curled up together on a camp bed. And there are tins of food, toys and clothing stored about as well. Who are these children? Why would someone provide for them, then leave them to die?
DI Rome's team is incensed, as is the public. But, as they dig deeper, they find there is much more to the story. I'm going to leave it at that, as I don't want to give anything away. But - Hilary's plotting is inventive, complex and oh, so very good. There are many tendrils, threads and paths to pick from on the way to the final whodunit. And best of all, I wasn't able to predict where the story was going to go. I really enjoy being kept on my toes. Hilary's first book explored domestic abuse, racism and homophobia as part of her plot. She again includes salient issues as part of the investigation.
And speaking of complex, let's talk about Marnie Rome. For, as much as I applaud Hilary's plotting, it is this character that had me eager to read the next book in the series. Rome's own background mirrors many of her cases - her parents were horrifically murdered. And that past is never far from the present. She knew the killer - and they are still in contact as she tries to find the answer as to why he killed them. Rome is a strong female lead - smart, driven and intuitive. She does prefer to operate on her own terms - sometimes to her detriment. The past effects her view of the present and she often makes judgement calls with those memories colouring her decisions - not always the wisest move. Rome's right hand, DS Jake is a great character as well. He has his own back story and it too is fleshed out even more in this second book.
The pace is quick, the crime is arresting and the characters are captivating. (And that cover is creepy!) An absolutely recommended book - but do yourself a favour - pick up the first book as well. Read an excerpt of of No Other Darkness.
Hilary is at work on book number three and it's definitely on my must read list You can connect with Sarah Hilary on Facebook, as well as on Twitter and also on her blog.