The Blurb On The Back:
You were lonely, that’s why you wrote me the first letter.
Knowing I was dangerous. Knowing what I’d done.
You were lonely and I was safely behind bars.
It was just a game.
Come and find me.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
It’s 6 weeks after QUIETER THAN KILLING.
DS Noah Jake’s brother Sol is in Pentonville Prison after Noah arrested him for importing drugs and their mother is refusing to talk to him because of it. Still, Pentonville’s safer than HMP Colverton, which had a riot a week earlier that’s left several prisoners on life support (including DI Marnie Rome’s foster brother, Stephen Keele who was badly affected by smoke inhalation) and – more seriously – saw a prisoner called Michael Vokey escape.
Vokey was sentenced to 8 years for aggravated burglary after breaking into Julie Seton’s house and assaulting her in front of her young daughter, Natalie and had recently been moved to Cloverton from Leeds after his last cellmate committed suicide. He viciously assaulted his latest cellmate, Ted Elms before escaping, leaving Ted on life support and a prognosis that isn’t good.
Rome and Jake must find Vokey, their task made more urgent when they discover sinister drawings and Polaroids of women that he left at his mother’s old house and learn that he was regularly receiving fan mail from women – one of whom has invited him to come and find her …
The 5thin Sarah Hilary’s DI MARNIE ROME SERIES is an intricately plotted affair full of clever devices and twists and populated by believable characters with very human emotions and although I wasn’t quite sold on the resolution of the main plot (and you do need to have read the previous books to get the most out of this), the book ends with a real emotional humdinger of an ending that means I will definitely be checking out book 6.
The book follows on directly from QUIETER THAN KILLING and the events that unfolded in that book (particularly with regards to the discoveries about Stephen) are still rippling through this one, especially with regards to Marnie’s emotional state and some characters from the preceding book (notably Aidan, a prisoner at Cloverton) appear here so to get the most of this, you do need to have read that one and ideally the books preceding it.
I particularly enjoyed the emotional journey that Noah and Marnie both go on in this book as each are coping with a sense of loss (Noah in the sense of having literally put his brother away and Marnie as she faces the possibility of Stephen dying) and it’s having an effect on their relationships with other people (Noah’s mother literally won’t talk to him and Marnie is finding herself pull away from Ed and get closer to DS Harry Kennedy.
Hilary does a good job of using Ted Elms’s point of view from his hospital bed to fill in some of the backstory and characterisation on Vickers and their prison guard, Darren Quayle. She’s especially good at using him to add to some of the twists and turns in the plot and it’s through Ted that we learn of Vickers’ manipulative behaviour and his sinister relationship with women while Marnie and Noah simultaneously try to track down the women who write to him with their fantasies. Hilary also does well of portraying the frustrations and sadness of these women and their motivation for writing to a man like Vickers and it’s to her credit that as a reader you feel sorry for them as much as you are repelled by them. In fact I have to say that what makes this series stand out is the underlying sense of melancholy and vulnerability that the characters have, which Hilary handles with great sensitivity.
For all this though, I have to say that I wasn’t quite convinced by the final resolution into the plot, which seemed to me to be one manipulation too many (although to be fair, Hilary does make you believe in the respective characters such that you can see why they would fall for it). That said, the final chapter of the book ends with a massive emotional punch such that I really want to see what happens to Marnie and Noah in the next book and I will definitely be checking it out.
Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.