Someone Else’s Skin – Sarah Hilary

The book begins with a flashback as we follow DI Marnie Rome to her home – a place that has become the scene for a dreadful crime. Five years later, she and her colleague DS Noah Jake are visiting a women’s refuge when there is a violent encounter between one of the residents and her husband. Right time, right place? Rome and Jake are working two cases that pull them along – though not in the expected direction – towards a shocking finale.

The central theme is domestic violence, and the author does an amazing job of handling the topic with tender care and attention, while not shying away from the violence, and the after effects. It’s also important to note that the blood and guts is not overdone, and fits well into the narrative. The plot ducks and dives a bit before coming to its first major twist, but it is cleverly done, and the whole tale is a satisfying reading experience. The two police characters are well drawn, believable, and interesting.

The only part of the book that was less than excellent for me, was just before the final encounter. Rome is trying to work out something (he said, while not trying to spoil the plot) and seems to become less than the highly intelligent policewoman we know her to be. She eventually cracks it – surprise! – but that struggle did not convince me.

Truly that is a minor blot on the landscape. And what a cracking landscape it is. A fine debut, and another author to follow.