It's winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie's family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it. Suddenly, events seem connected, and it's personal.
Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing.
Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary is published by Headline on 9 March 2017 and is the fourth in the excellent Marnie Rome series, following Someone Else's Skin (2014), No Other Darkness (2015) and Tastes Like Fear (2016).
When I look back at my reviews of Sarah Hilary's previous novels I remember how stunned I was by them, and I'm not sure that I can find more words to describe the absolute pleasure that reading her work bring to me.
DI Marnie Rome and her colleague DS Noah Jake are investigating a serious of attacks that at first appear totally random, but on closer inspection its seems that this could be a vigilante attacker. When one of the victims dies and then a small child goes missing, the hunt for the assailant steps up a notch and soon Marnie and Noah are caught up in a tense and terrifying chase.
when the couple who rent her late parents house are brutally attacked, in the house. This is the house that Marnie can't bear to enter, yet also can't bear to sell. The house where her parents were brutally murdered by the boy that they'd taken into their family - their foster son Stephen.
This is an absolute cracker of a story, the tension builds page by page. Sarah Hilary grabs her readers by the hand and pulls them through a twisting, turning road with such force and power. The plot is tight and the characters are perfect.
Whilst Quieter Than Killing is crime fiction through and through, with detectives who are blunt, forceful and utterly realistic, it is also a book that contains some of the most perfectly crafted sentences that I've come across for a long time. The author's ability to set a scene, the power of the icy wintry London streets is exquisitely captured, adding depth to the story. My copy of this book is littered with folded corners, marking some beautiful and evocative passages. As Marnie stands by the Thames, she reaches for an iron bar that runs along a wall:
"Her hand gripped at the bar a moment longer before she pulled away, seeing the heated imprint of her palm shrink slowly as the cold took back custody of the iron."
The writing is so very vivid, not just the description of place, but also the incredible insight into the nature of humans, the psychology of feeling, the effect of past crimes on present thoughts.
Quieter Than Killing a complex story, with layers of reason and intertwined stories, yet it is absolutely compulsive. Once you start, you will find it very difficult to put down.
Sharp, ingenious, astonishingly good, crime fiction really doesn't get better than this.
I'm honoured to welcome author Sarah Hilary to Random Things today, she's written a guest post entitled 'Writing our Fears', as part of the Blog Tour.
Writing our Fears by Sarah Hilary‘Write what you know’ always struck me as strange advice. ‘Write what you want to know’ was my maxim for many years. But now?‘Write what you fear’ is my new mantra.Quieter Than Killing was a scary book to write and is, I hope, a scary book to read because so much of it speaks to the under-the-bed monsters in my head. The same is true of all my Marnie Rome stories. I thought it might be fun to take a closer look at some of this stuff that scares me …Going undergroundSo, bunkers. While I’m not quite claustrophobic, I can think of several places I’d rather spend time than in an underground bunker. I could feel its bruising damp as I started to write the opening to No Other Darkness. I could smell the green-black rot, and feel the raw cement walls squeezing me. My palms were sweating the whole time I was writing the scenes towards the end of the book when Marnie’s trapped underground. The same is true of the cupboard under the stairs in Someone Else’s Skin.Angry teenagersI’m scared of them. I’m scared for them. Marnie’s bogeyman is an angry teenage boy, but it’s more complicated than that because she herself was an angry teenager—something that haunts her throughout the series. That tipping point in childhood where we might go good or bad. In Quieter Than Killing, Marnie fights to save a ten-year-old from the fate that befell her foster brother, Stephen.Creepy dollsI used to collect dolls as a girl. My ‘Mama’ doll went in the bath with me so many times she ended up saying, ‘Murder’. True story.Lost childrenI’m a mother. And the daughter of a woman who spent three years of her childhood as a prisoner of the Japanese. Tastes Like Fear is about young people who go missing from the streets of London and end up in a place they think is safe, until they discover the terrible truth about their ‘saviour’.Losing yourself‘There is no other darkness than this: what’s inside us. Where we hide; what we hide.’ The character who speaks this line in No Other Darkness scares me because of who she is and what she’s done. Her despair scares me, and her loss. Her fear scares me. The idea of losing yourself so completely that you’re no longer in control of your thoughts or actions—terrifies me. Each book in my series has at least one character who has reached this precipice of self, and fallen to a frightening place.So, there you have it. A handy list of the buttons to press to send me over the edge. I can trust you to keep it all secret, yes?
Sarah Hilary has worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. Her debut, SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2015 and was a World Book Night selection for 2016. The Observer's Book of the Month ("superbly disturbing”) and a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, it has been published worldwide. NO OTHER DARKNESS, the second in the series was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the US. Her DI Marnie Rome series continued with TASTES LIKE FEAR and her fourth book, QUIETER THAN KILLING, is out now.
Follow Sarah on Twitter at @Sarah_Hilary