In the second of Sarah Hilary’s Detective Inspector Marnie Rome series, the team are investigating the discovery of the bodies of two young boys, found in a bunker beneath a London garden. Five years earlier someone had left them there to die, alone and cold in the dark. Terry and Beth Doyle, under whose garden the boys were found, have two young children of their own, and when they go missing the race is on to find them in time. In an eerie echo of DI Rome’s own personal history the Doyles foster a very sullen and angry teenage boy, Clancy. Can he be responsible for the children’s disappearance or is Rome’s own tragedy blinding her to all other possibilities?
An emotionally intelligent read, this story pulls apart the complexities of an unconventional family life; sometimes the danger to those we love is much closer to home than we can ever possibly imagine. The twists and turns that follow from the first gripping page to the final heart-wrenching conclusion had me reading this book in every free moment; it was utterly compelling from beginning to end and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
I particularly enjoyed the moral ambiguity that Hilary cultivated throughout the story; no strict delineation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’. The good guys have their dark side, and sometimes the most terrible consequences are borne of well-intentioned actions. I’m being deliberately vague; I would hate to ruin it for anyone by giving away too much, but know that the writing is exemplary, the subject matter intelligently and sensitively handled and the character development and psychological depth are second to none.
I had not read the first in the series, and although I’m sure it would have given me a deeper understanding of Marnie Rome and her team, I feel No Other Darkness succeeds as a stand alone novel in its own right. That said, the next book on my reading list is most definitely going to be Rome’s first outing: Someone Else’s Skin.