Today it is my pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for Never Be Broken by Sarah Hilary, the sixth book in her long running and ever popular Marnie Rome series. I’ve been desperate to read this book, and was delighted to be asked by Anne Cater of Random Things Tours to take part in this blog tour. My thanks go to publisher Headline who provided an advance copy for review. Here is what the book is all about:
About the Book
Children are dying on London’s streets. Frankie Reece, stabbed through the heart, outside a corner shop. Others recruited from care homes, picked up and exploited; passed like gifts between gangs. They are London’s lost.Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Playstore | iBooks
Then Raphaela Belsham is killed. She’s thirteen years old, her father is a man of influence, from a smart part of town. And she’s white. Suddenly, the establishment is taking notice.
DS Noah Jake is determined to handle Raphaela’s case and Frankie’s too. But he’s facing his own turmoil, and it’s becoming an obsession. DI Marnie Rome is worried, and she needs Noah on side. Because more children are disappearing, more are being killed by the day and the swelling tide of violence needs to be stemmed before it’s too late.
NEVER BE BROKEN is a stunning, intelligent and gripping novel which explores how the act of witness alters us, and reveals what lies beneath the veneer of a glittering city.
I find it somewhat ironic that Sarah Hilary should choose to name this latest book in the Marnie Rome series Never Be Broken. Broken is exactly how her books leave me … Every. Single. Time. As ironic as it is for me as a reader however, it is absolutely fitting when taken in the context of not only the story but when thinking about the resilience of her two lead characters, Marnie Rome and Noah Jake.
What I love about Sarah Hilary’s work is how she always manages to capture a very relevant and topical story of modern life and weave it into a tale which will captivate, shock, entertain but also educate the reader. It is not done in a way which comes across as preaching or overtly political, but she always manages to capture society at its most vulnerable, to capture the heart and soul of society and make it accessible to readers, engaging them in a series of what if’s and there but for the grace of god kind of revelatory moments.
In this book she is exploring the current alarming trends of ‘county lines’ – the exploitation of young and vulnerable children to move drugs and other objectionable merchandise around the country without fear of detection for those in charge of the enterprise – and of the all too regular murder of London’s teenagers, through gun deaths and knife crimes. These are situations that hit the headlines with frightening regularity, no longer confined to London, but certainly most prevalent there. It is no longer just members of gangs who are targeted and fall victim to such brutality, and it is after the inexplicable murder of a young girl from an affluent part of the city that we join Marnie and her team who are tasked with getting to the root cause of all of the murders and putting a stop to them.
This is an emotionally charged novel, and not just because of the nature of the crimes that the team are investigating, which are horrific and senseless enough. You are faced with grief from all angles, and the differing ways in which parents cope with loss. The gamut of emotions from anger, to resignation to a sense of determination and hope, are all represented in a sensitive and authentic way, the author tapping into all of the readers senses in creating that dramatic tension.
It makes for compelling, if occasionally difficult reading, especially when you factor in that at the heart of it all is poor Noah, a man who is still coming to terms with his own recent loss in a surprising and yet understandable way. Noah is a well loved character and it breaks your heart to see the impact that loss is having on him, particularly when you consider the cause of his grief and how it links to the case he is now investigating. It leads to him taking chances, ones which put him in danger, sometimes in very unexpected ways.
This novel also taps into the post Brexit vote divisions which have sadly arisen across the country. Nothing new in the presentation of racism and intolerance perhaps – that has always existed – but certainly in the way in which certain factions feel that the vote validates their beliefs and gives them the right to express them more overtly than they ever dared before. And that sense of the disenfranchised people of the run down council estates who are being looked over and turfed out of their homes, all in the name of gentrification, is so beautifully expressed that you feel real anger on their behalf as you read.
The book is full of tension and it drives the narrative beautifully. It is not always an easy read, if only because of the overwhelming sense of grief and sometimes despair that emanates from the pages. But look beyond that and you see the superb partnership of Marnie and Noah, tested to its limits as Marnie struggles to know how to help her Sergeant, but still a joy to read. Such compassion and determination from both of them, that real heart which drives this whole series compelling you to read onward.
And the ending – going from nerve-wracking action to a calm, heart warming moment in which one of the victims mothers calls for peace and an end to the violence which claimed her child’s life – is perfect. It sums up how senseless all of it is, and yet provides hope that there is still a chance for things to change. It brought a lump to my throat, no mean feat believe me.
Tense, emotional and heart-felt, and extremely topical, this is another stunning offering from Sarah Hilary, one you would be a fool to miss. If you love Marnie and Noah, this book will captivate you and then break you, before slowly putting you back together again. Brilliant stuff.
About The Author
Sarah Hilary’s debut, Someone Else’s Skin, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2015 and was a World Book Night selection for 2016. The Observer’s Book of the Month (‘superbly disturbing’) and a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, it has been published worldwide. No Other Darkness, the second in the series was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the US. Her DI Marnie Rome series continued with Tastes Like Fear, Quieter Than Killing and Come And Find Me.
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