Written by Sarah Hilary — What is it with angling? The thought of sitting on a riverbank all day in the hope of catching a fish on a hook, reeling it in slowly, then playing with it until you’ve tired it out leaves me cold. But after reading Someone Else’s Skin, I think I know just how that fish feels.
Crime fiction debutant Sarah Hilary had me hooked from chapter one, and skilfully played with my emotions until I was spent. And, do you know what? I’d go through it all again in a heartbeat, because this is a book that is definitely worth the ride.
Meet DI Marnie Rome – on the surface, a tough, no-nonsense copper whose career looks destined for great things. But what is going on behind that carefully constructed facade? Five years ago, Marnie’s life was sent into a tailspin when her mother and father were knifed to death by the 15-year-old boy they were fostering. Today she is still haunted by what happened on that fateful day, still struggling to comprehend the reasons behind the murders. Which is one of the ways she justifies making regular visits to Stephen Keele in the secure unit where he is incarcerated, near Bristol.
Trouble is, Stephen isn’t sharing, and instead takes great pleasure in winding Marnie up. He drops little clues and hints that mess with her head – and on the fifth anniversary of her parents’ deaths, Stephen lets slip a little gem of information that leaves her reeling. Marnie has tattoos of phrases which are important to her. She believes no-one has ever seen them – until Stephen quotes one chapter and verse. As a 15-year-old, he must have seen her naked. The revelation is shocking to a woman who so closely guards her personal privacy.
However, Marnie has little time to ponder as she and her team make a fateful visit to a women’s shelter in Finchley. They’re there to see Ayana Mirza, who is in hiding and in fear for her life after her brothers poured bleach over her, blinding her in one eye. Now one of her siblings is being sought for another nasty attack, this time with a scimitar, and the police want Ayana to testify about his violent tendencies. But when Marnie and her Sergeant, Noah Jake, arrive at the place of refuge they find it in uproar. Another of the residents has received an unwelcome visit from her abusive husband and now he is lying on the floor, barely breathing, with a knife in his chest. As Marnie and Noah begin to investigate, they uncover shocking secrets which are destined to alter perceptions and wreak havoc upon everyone involved.
Someone Else’s Skin is a book about family, deception, misdirection and misunderstanding and it will certainly keep you on your toes. Marnie Rome is a complicated and challenging character who is unlike any other I’ve encountered in the pages of a crime fiction novel, and I really warmed to her. She’s a woman with demons, but with enough gumption to keep them at bay when the chips are down; and the beating heart of a dazzling debut novel which will beguile and confound you every step of the way. The final twist is hugely satisfying, and this novel also features a murder weapon that’s totally unique in crime fiction! Read it to find out what it is.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars