Detective Inspector Marnie Rome is a police officer with a past – her parents were murdered five years ago. While the culprit is behind bars, she is, quite understandably, still haunted by both the crime and the killer, but there are more immediate concerns.
She is called, with her partner DS Noah Jake, to a women’s refuge, simply to take a witness statement. One of the occupants is planning to testify against her husband and his family but when Marnie arrives, she finds the badly wounded body of a man on the kitchen floor. The man, Leo, has been stabbed by his wife, Hope – everybody in the refuge saw the incident, but it seems that nobody can agree on exactly what happened. And nobody seems to know how Leo a) found the location of the secure refuge and b) got through the front door.
As Leo fights for his life in hospital, Marnie hunts for the truth. But the women in the refuge have suffered dreadful trauma in the past – everyone has kept secrets out of necessity and they’re not about to give those up easily…
It’s very hard to talk much about the plot of the book – read the blurb, it has even less that what I’ve said above – and I would hate to give away much about how the plot develops, as that could ruin a good chunk of the plot. But while it may have started out as such – in the author’s note, she says that her first idea was of a crime witnessed by many but still a mystery – it developed into so much more.
It’s a tale about abuse in many of its terrible forms. Virtually every character in the book has undergone a dreadful experience, usually an ongoing one, and the author does an impressive job of making that trauma seem real. It must have been a harrowing job researching the detail for the pasts of the characters – it was certainly pretty harrowing reading about it. It’s a very impressively written book, but it’s not an easy read.
I’ve been turning over my thoughts about this one for a while and I do have an issue with the plot – it does seem oddly placed. The big moment occurs about halfway through – and it’s very well done – but the second half did drag a bit for me, plot-wise. And again, while what happens to one of the characters in the second half is evocative and well-written, I do wonder if it was necessary to the plot to traumatise yet another character.
I picked this one off the TBR pile as I’ve got a review copy of the third book in the series – if someone can let me know if I should read the second book to get up to speed on Marnie’s background story, I’d appreciate it. As for this one, despite my reservations, it’s a book that resonates with the reader long after it’s finished. Recommended.