Posts Tagged ‘Someone Else’s Skin’

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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’.