Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Hilary’

This is the 4th book in a series which can be read as a standalone, although to make the most of Sarah Hilary’s excellent characterisation and follow the connections as they are revealed, reading the earlier books is recommended.

The novel starts with a reference to the horrific event of six years ago which has haunted Marnie throughout the series and ultimately influenced her work as a homicide detective. The streets of London are cold and forbidding. They establish an atmosphere of barriers to Marnie and Noah latest case, finding the vigilante responsible for a series of assaults culminating in a brutal murder. The attacks seem random, but when Marnie’s family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary was personal and organised by someone who knows all about her. But it will take a prison visit to her foster brother, Stephen before Marnie starts to see the connections and that someone out there is playing lethal games.

This book is far more complex than the usual police procedural. Although success for Marnie and Noah will be determined by their ability to catch the killer, the management of their personal lives is always a relevant. With themes of revenge, obsession and the impact of early years abuse on survival, ‘Quieter than Killing’ is a compelling read which like earlier books in the series doesn’t disappoint.

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Overall I was a bit disappointed. I loved Sarah Hilary’s first two Marnie Rome novels. They are so powerful and moving with terrific pace and suspense. So I guess I was expecting more. ‘Taste of Fear’ is still an intriguing story beautifully told, but it didn’t have the pace and moments of sheer terror that the first two Marnie Rome novels had. Thinking of Noah shackled to that radiator still makes me shudder.

This narration takes alternating points of view. Those of Detectives Marnie Rome and Noah Jake with some of the missing street girls. I found this detracted from the story and would have preferred more of Marnie and Noah’s POV’s, they are such brilliantly strong characters and I found myself rushing through the other parts to get back to their viewpoint chapters.

In conclusion I agree with another review who stated that Sarah Hilary’s writing is the literary equivalent of ‘A Big Mac’ – you know what you are getting. And what you get is a great plot skilfully told with lots of blind alleys and twists. A lovely sense of place around the streets and luxury new builds around Battersea Power Station, which almost becomes a character in its own right. There is plenty of strong characterisation, not just the leads but the minor characters too, and having said I would have preferred less of the street girl’s viewpoint, I felt immersed in the world of teenage rough sleepers. The opening description of Christie feeling invisible to the people walking past her prompted me to give money to the next beggar that I encountered.

Crime Writer M J Hall

Crime Writer M J Hall

We recently discussed M R Hall’s crime novel ‘The Coroner’ at the Sidmouth Crime Fiction Book Group. The book generated a lot of discussion. We shared our own experiences of sitting through a Coroner’s court and although most cases are brief and business like, we agreed that Matt Hall’s experience of being a criminal barrister and his knowledge of the criminal justice system brought real authenticity to Jenny’s courtroom – although we hope that Coroner’s are not in the habit of popping pills in the real Coroner’s Court.

We like Matt Hall’s tense and compelling style of writing and thought he did an excellent job of getting inside the head of a neurotic professional woman, with the proviso that the romance/sex side of the novel seemed a bit more masculine.

Matt Hall will be giving a workshop on ‘Turning Good Ideas into Commercial Crime Novels’ at ‘Creative Thursday’, part of the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in York on Thursday 21st of July. Sarah Hilary, (see my earlier post) another of our favourite authors and winner of Crime Novel of the Year Award at last year’s festival will also be taking part. I’ve attended Creative Thursday on two previous occasions and found it inspiring and fun. I can also recommend taking the challenge of pitching at ‘The Dragons’ Pen’. It’s scary but brilliant when all four ‘dragons’ want to read your submission.

Sarah Hilary - Theakston prize winner 2015

Sarah Hilary – Theakston prize winner 2015

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Sarah Hilary - Theakston prize winner 2015

Sarah Hilary – Theakston prize winner 2015

Our Sidmouth Crime Fiction Group’s read for February was ‘Someone Else’s Skin’ by Sarah Hilary. I love this book. It was the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year in 2015. I was at the prize giving and thought the prize well deserved. I’d read the book in one sitting after attending a workshop on novel writing that Sarah was running at the International Agatha Christie Festival at Torre Abbey, Torquay in September 2014. The workshop was inspirational as was our chat over coffee and cakes in the sunshine during the break. Sarah is a crime writer I admire and I’ve loved both of her novels, so I was curious to know what other members of the group thought about it.

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This novel goes straight into the action with a scene from five years ago when the main protagonist, D I Marnie Rome arrives at the burnt out ruin of her parent’s house to find it they have been murdered by their fourteen year old foster son. The story then moves at a pace as Marnie and her Sergeant, Noah Jake, try to get evidence against a violent murderer who has also grievously assaulted his sister. Arriving to interview her at a woman’s refuge they arrive to witness a stabbing.

The novel explores themes of domestic violence, controlling behaviour and abuse of power. But be warned, Sarah Hilary is the queen of twists – and things are never as they first appear.

So what did the group think? Overall, they didn’t like it as much as me, although everyone found it a riveting read and appreciated the writing and great descriptions. They liked the theme and the way the plot twisted and changed direction and no-one guessed the ending.

Some of the group didn’t like the graphic violence and not everyone warmed to Marnie Rome. They found her too edgy and her attitude to Michael, the foster brother who murdered her parents, hard to understand. We did all love Noah Luke though. An interesting and believable character. We also liked the alternating viewpoint between him and Marnie, which provided some interesting insights into Marnie’s behavior. Most of us are now going to read the sequel ‘ No Other Darkness’ , a novel about child abuse. Some might just skip over the violence, but not me. I like the total package. It’s nail biting stuff.

For our March Book Group on Thursday, 24th of March, we are doing something slightly different. Peter Robinson is our chosen author but we are each going to read a different book from his Inspector Banks series to see how they compare. The group starts at 2.30 p.m. at Kennaway House and new members are always welcome.

Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival 13

Agent Jane Gregory and friends at the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crimefest

It’s two years since I’ve been to Harrogate for the crime writing celebratory bonanza and four since I braved the Dragons’ Pen initiation of terror for would-be crime writers. But the heightened sense of adrenelin is just the same and I was sorry I could only stay for one day.

Still, there was plenty of time to have fun and experience some great moments like:

  • Mingling with authors, agents and publishers at the first Dead Good Reader Awards. I won two new books and my favourite book of the year, The Girl on the Train, was voted the most recommended book. As a fan of Ann Cleeves crime books, I was delighted to see Brenda Blethyn accompany her to collect their award when Vera was voted the best detective.
  • Meeting Sarah Hilary after her brilliant debut novel, Someone Else’s Skin won the Crime Novel of the Year Award. I met her last year at The Agatha Christie Festival where she was giving one of the best writing workshops I’ve attended. She’s still just as lovely and very much deserves her success.
  • The Perfect Match panel, Isabelle Grey, Stewart Bain, Anya Lipska, James Oswald

    The Perfect Match panel, Isabelle Grey, Stewart Bain, Anya Lipska, James Oswald

    Finding out how to identify books to make your heart sing at ‘The Perfect Match’ panel consisting of authors and Orkney librarian, Stewart Bain. It was entertaining and amusing and I learnt that very cheap or free books increase sales and writers revenues; most readers on Amazon already know what books they want to buy; covers count and readers of crime novels want to solve puzzles and expect to find an early murder.

  • Enjoying the interchange between author and critic, NJ Cooper and Stig Larsson’s publisher and editor about gender issues and sensitivity arising from The Millennium Trilogy in advance of the release of ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web‘ the new Lizabeth Salander sequel by David Lagercrantz on the 27th of August. With regard to the rape scene, the editor, Eve Gedlin was asked ‘Was Blonquist too important to bother with his women’s emotions?’ She didn’t think he was but it will be interesting to see how Lizabeth’s emotions are treated in ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’.