January 15

No Other Darkness – Sarah Hilary

No Other DarknessTwo young boys.
Trapped underground in a bunker.
Unable to understand why they are there.
Desperate for someone to find them.
Slowly realising that no-one will…
Five years later, the boys’ bodies are found and the most difficult case of DI Marnie Rome’s career begins.
Her only focus is the boys. She has to find out who they are and what happened to them.

For Marnie, there is no other darkness than this…


Thanks to Sarah Hilary and Elizabeth Masters at Headline for my review copy.


Last year Sarah Hilary introduced us to DI Marnie Rome in her debut novel Someone Else’s Skin. I was a big fan of this dark (and frequently disturbing) thriller. It also contained my standout scene of the year – read my review here:

Now Marnie Rome is back and Sarah Hilary has knocked it out of the park for us yet again. Marnie and her colleague DS Noah Jake make their return in No Other Darkness, another story that will entertain and unsettle in equal measure.

The story opens with Marnie and Noah called in to investigate a chilling discovery: the bodies of two young boys which were hidden in a bunker that was concealed under the garden of a suburban housing scheme. There are no clues within the bunker as to the identity of the boys so where does Marnie start? How could two children just disappear without anyone noticing or reporting them missing?

For this reader there was an added element of discomfort in reading the opening pages of No Other Darkness as my own children (also boys) are the same age as the boys in the bunker. It is not often I am unsettled while reading fiction yet for the second book in a row it seems Sarah Hilary has managed to mess with my head!

Marnie’s investigations progress and as she starts to draw closer to identifying the children the readers get to understand why the boys were in the bunker and, crucially, why they were not let back out again. Sarah Hilary is able to keep the story flowing at a great pace and I found that I did not want to stop reading, there was a necessity to see where the story was going.

I previously alluded to Someone Else’s Skin having a standout moment – this was a scene where my understanding of the story turned out to be completely incorrect and everything changed. In No Other Darkness a similar sucker-punch arises where a murder investigation suddenly becomes <REDACTED>. Sorry, but you will have to read for yourself to discover what lies in store.

Having tackled domestic violence in her first book and now the deaths of young children in her second novel I am almost scared to consider what may be next from Sarah Hilary. I could almost believe she has a Big Book of Horrible Things and is working her way through the nastiest of the concepts just to un-nerve her readers. She is doing a great job!

Back to No Other Darkness and outwith the investigations we get to learn a bit more about Marnie and DS Jake. For Marnie there are insights into her history when a former lover appears on the scene. He is a reporter and is offering to share information (on his own terms).

Yet I felt that within No Other Darkness there was more focus on Noah Jake and I believe that we got a better look into his background and some of the problems that he has overcome. I also noticed a greater focus on some of Marnie’s other colleagues, more so than had been present in Someone Else’s Skin. I am hoping that Sarah Hilary is planning much more from Marnie and her team.

A tricky review in that there are several key elements of the plot that I am keen not to discuss so that I can avoid revealing any spoilers. Worry not, however, as this is a brilliant crime thriller and there are twists and scares a-plenty.

For fans of Someone Else’s Skin you can rest assured that No Other Darkness is of an equally high quality. Sarah Hilary writes dark and engrossing stories – everyone needs to read them.

Review scored at 4.5 out of 5 – compelling yet unsettling.

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Posted January 15, 2015 by Gordon in category "From The Bookshelf