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Someone Else's Skin by Sarah Hilary


Someone Else's Skin

Some secrets keep you safe, others will destroy you.
Detective Inspector Marnie Rome. Dependable; fierce; brilliant at her job; a rising star in the ranks. Everyone knows how Marnie fought to come back from the murder of her parents, but very few know what is going on below the surface. Because Marnie has secrets she won't share with anyone. But then so does everyone. Certainly those in the women's shelter Marnie and Detective Sergeant Noah Jake visit on that fateful day. The day when they arrive to interview a resident, only to find one of the women's husbands, who shouldn't have been there, lying stabbed on the floor. As Marnie and Noah investigate the crime further, events begin to spiral and the violence escalates. Everyone is keeping secrets, some for survival and some, they suspect, to disguise who they really are under their skin. Now, if Marnie is going to find the truth she will have to face her own demons head on. Because the time has come for secrets to be revealed...

It’s odd how infrequently I read crime novels considering how much I enjoy them when I pick just the right one. Someone Else’s Skin definitely falls into this category.

Marnie Rome is a cop with problems, but hers are a little more unusual than liking one drink too many. Her foster brother is in prison for the murder of her parents. No motive has ever been forthcoming. The book opens with the scene five years ago as Marnie arrived at the crime scene, which was also her family home. The dread she feels is so well written, she’s ‘so scared her teeth ache’. The difficulty of being a police officer and a victim of major crime is explored throughout the book as Marnie struggles to deal with her own emotions, her relationship with Stephen (her foster brother), and the concerned eyes of her colleagues.

Marnie and Noah have a nasty case on which to test their new partnership. Noah is not without issues of his own. What the pair has in common is an overwhelming desire to prove themselves. This can manifest itself as a dangerous degree of self-reliance, and I did get very cross with them both at times. I very much hope they learn that communication is the key to any good relationship!

As much as I liked Noah and warmed to Marnie, it was Ayana that stole the show for me. She is the most amazing, resilient and brave character. The officers go to the refuge to speak to her, but the subsequent events lead them away from their original enquiries. They lose sight of her, but Ayana’s story took hold of me and I was desperate to know how things would turn out for her.

The women at the refuge obviously have hidden stories, but the arrival of Marnie and Noah at the critical moment acts as a catalyst for so much revelation. Very little is as it first seems. Which is just as it should be in a gripping crime novel. I enjoyed the unravelling of lies and secrets very much, and didn’t guess too much too quickly. The idea of digging beneath the skin to find the truth works very well. Surface and interior are brilliant concepts to think with, how they compete and complement. I loved that Marnie’s own skin is revelatory in itself – as, in very different ways, is Noah’s and their boss Welland’s. But, surface only tells a partial story and mustn’t be taken for the whole.

I thought this was a great debut novel. I would certainly read another Marnie Rome book, there’s still plenty of room for her character to grow and many demons still to put to rest.

Someone Else’s Skin is published in Trade Paperback by Headline on 27 February. My advance copy was kindly given to me by the publisher via NetGalley.

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