Review: Sarah Hilary – Someone Else’s Skin

imageThe misery of domestic violence has occasionally been depicted in crime fiction but it’s a subject that’s difficult to read about. There’s enough violence, intimidation and hatred in the situation that victims find themselves in without adding a murder investigation into the mix. But Sarah Hilary has done very well to do just that; set a killing in a home for victims of domestic violence without it seeming gratuitous or exploitative.

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome is in charge of an investigation to discover why a man has been wounded in a women’s refuge. Although it initially looks like a case of lackadaisical security in a place for those looking to escape violence in the home, Marnie soon discovers more complex relationships exploiting the stresses of vulnerable people.

This is a difficult book to review as to go into the plot in any depth would give away too many spoilers. There are a number of twists and turns, one of which I saw coming, which in no way spoilt my enjoyment of the book. There narrative is multi-layered and, like the best crime novels, the lines between victim and villain are often unclear.

This is a debut novel for Sarah Hilary and the first in a series featuring Marnie Rome. She has managed to give us something new with her detective inspector. Marnie has her own secrets which she partially gives up towards the end of the novel. I suspect there are more to come.

Thanks to Headline for my review copy.

26 thoughts on “Review: Sarah Hilary – Someone Else’s Skin

  1. Sarah, I think by “difficult to read” I assume you mean an uncomfortable read as I’d see it, unless the subject of domestic violence is tackled really well, as it appears in the case of this debut novel. I think the title would pull a reader towards the book.


  2. Margot Kinberg

    Sarah – Glad you enjoyed this. Some authors are able to confront a topic honestly (which can be uncomfortable) and yet still tell a story that’s engaging. It sounds as though this is one of those books.


  3. I liked the way the novel took a different approach to domestic violence and agree that there are sections that are difficult to read about. The author did a great job of keeping involved and a little off balance.


  4. I thought there was a lot of promise in this novel but I am getting rather tired of the plot line that makes the detective’s past as much what the book is about as the crime itself. Mind you I had read two others with similar narrative ploys at much the same time as I came to this, so I may have been just sated at that point.


    1. I agree that the detective’s past is a popular theme in crime fiction. I suppose, as writers, you are asked to bring a lot of backstory to a character and often this then weaves itself into a text. What were the other books you read?


  5. Excellent review! You have peaked my interest in Sarah’s book. There needs to be more like this one :-). Reminds me of “A Rose For Her Grave,” by Ann Rule, which is is a fascinating collection of several true crime stories against women, one of which investigates the murders by Randy Roth, who married his victims for profit. The author has a great new website with her books updated in eBook format which can find here:


  6. Pingback: Review: Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary | A Crime is Afoot

  7. I think I may have missed something. I absolutely loved the book but felt uncomfortable about the feeling of loose ends. I thought Stukes abuser had been Simone all along but at the end it points to Hope. Maybe I missed somethings along the way. I also was expecting to see a bit of a tie up of loose ends about Stephen Keele too.


    1. Sorry I missed this comment in December. I’m quite comfortable about loose ends in books but I know they annoy many readers. Thanks for taking the time to stop by the blog – I was offline over the new year period and I seem to have missed your comment.


  8. Just read this one and am mulling my thoughts over before writing a review. It’s an impressive debut, certainly, but am going to have to think about whether I actually enjoyed reading it…


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