No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary is the second installment in the very successful Marnie Rome series. If you have not heard about Sarah Hilary or Marnie Rome yet, and you are looking for a great crime fiction series, skip this review and go back to Someone Else’s Skin, read our exclusive interview with Sarah herself, or our article on her now famous main character, feminism and women in crime fiction.
No Other Darkness starts soon after Someone Else’s Skin‘s ending. DI Marnie Rome, now safe back home, and recovering from her own personal ordeal, is called along DS Noah Jake to a peculiar crime scene: a bunker under one of Bristol’s most recent suburbia, where the corpses of two children have been found. The existence of the bunker, unknown to all neighbours, will start one of the most traumatic investigations in crime fiction I have ever read.
My experience reading crime fiction is that most readers have some taboo subjects that they will not consider reading about at all – one of mine is the Holocaust – but crimes against children seem to be a popular one. So, if you fall into this category, do not consider No Other Darkness, because although Hilary treats the victims with the respect, and sympathy they deserve, she does not omit the most violent details. If with her first Marnie Rome novel the author took a chance with the resolution of the crime, then, with No Other Darkness Sarah Hilary is positioning herself among the most subversive crime authors nowadays.
This second novel also puts DI Rome’s personal life besides to focus in DS Jake’s one. No surprise here, except for the fact that Jake’s position as a Black, gay man, with a troubled family life is a shout-out to the lack of racial, and sexual diversity in crime fiction, even in 2015. I especially liked how the reader is presented with love scenes between Noah and his boyfriend, and the glimpse we get into homosexual desire, which locates it equally – in many ways – to Marnie’s own heterosexual desire for her boyfriend.
So, I really enjoyed No Other Darkness, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Someone Else’s Skin, but I would also recommend reading the series in order: there are only two books, and Rome’s personal journey is worth doing the effort. As for Hilary, I think she is one of the UK’s most complex, and subversive crime fiction writers nowadays, not only because of the crimes she writes, but also because of the inclusiveness of her writing: gender issues, sexuality, race, mental health, and body issues make of her stories top crime fiction.