No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary

No Other Darkness is Sarah Hilary’s second novel. The first, Someone Else’s Skin, introduced the world to DI Marnie Rome, and No Other Darkness is her second outing. She’s an interesting protagonist; in this novel both her personal and professional pasts come back to haunt her present case.

No Other Darkness begins with two young boys trapped in a bunker and is followed by the finding of their bodies five years later. It is horrific, and with the finding of the boys’ bodies many repressed things come to light.

Hilary juggles many strands here. I wasn’t sure about the narration by the boy’s mother at first, as it appeared so early in the story, but the plot kept snowballing and twisting in unexpected ways; it is not a simple whodunit. Hilary handles psychosis in a sensitive and understanding way. And she brings up very good points about the partners of people with serious mental health problems: what help is there for them? People here are complicated, the way real people always are. And the characters drive the plot. There are so many twists and turns that I really wasn’t sure how it would end.

Marnie’s personal background is awful: her parents were killed by a child they fostered. Unfortunately, Marnie’s current case deals with another tearaway foster child who has many similarities with the boy who killed her parents. On top of this, the current case is very close, location-wise, to an investigation Marnie completed a few years ago. I enjoyed how Marnie’s work and personal life are interconnected. She isn’t just one thing, one identity. When her partner is kidnapped she works hard to find him; though she is worrying so much inside, she puts on a brave front. She has to solve the case.

No Other Darkness is intelligent and compelling. I don’t know why I don’t read much crime fiction. Perhaps out of habit I never really gravitate towards the crime section of bookshops. But when I do read it, I can’t put it down. I wonder what else I’ve been missing out on. I’d love some recommendations of your favourite crime fiction, if you have any. And I think I’m going to pick up Sarah Hilary’s first.

Thank you to BookBridgr for the advanced copy of No Other Darkness, which is out in the UK on the 23rd April.