Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary

Quieter Than Killing (D.I. Marnie Rome 4) by [Hilary, Sarah]
Quieter Than Killing is the fourth book in Sarah Hilary's excellent series of  crime novels featuring DI Marnie Rome. This time, the plot centres on a series of apparent vigilante attacks and the kidnap of a child, Finn Duffy - except nobody seems to have reported Finn missing. Meanwhile, the house of Marnie's late parents, who were brutally murdered several years previously by their teenage foster child Stephen, has been robbed, a shoebox of Marnie's personal belongings stolen from the attic. Could the obsessive, manipulative Stephen really be masterminding these attacks from his prison cell?

Like its predecessors, Quieter Than Killing is dark, gritty and urban and although it's primarily a police procedural, it has strong elements of psychological thriller too, focusing particularly on childhood trauma and its lasting effects. The characters' motives are dark and twisted and the violence is considerable, although to Hilary's credit it's never portrayed in a way that feels gratuitous or voyeuristic. It's also something of an ensemble piece and continues the story of Marnie's colleague Noah Jake and his relationship with his troubled brother Sol, a budding gangster out of his depth.

I said when I reviewed the previous book in the series, Tastes Like Fear, that I felt the ongoing subplot of Stephen and his motives needed to move on if it was to hold my attention in future books, and Quieter Than Killing does deliver on that score while still leaving questions open for the next instalment in the series (Come and Find Me, due for publication in March).

My only minor criticism of Quieter Than Killing is that there were occasions when I felt the dialogue stretched the suspension of my disbelief a little too far. I don't expect fictional characters to speak exactly as they would in real life: there will always be moments when characters speak in a more 'writerly' way than they (or anyone) would in reality, and in most cases we simply accept it of course as something that adds colour and makes the book more vivid and readable - but there were two scenes in Quieter Than Killing where I felt the dialogue was just felt a little too much like a TV drama script. This really is a very small quibble, though, and something I probably wouldn't have noticed in a crime novel of a lesser quality.

Overall this a gripping page-turner which kept me guessing right up until its conclusion and another strong entry in a strong series. Quieter Than Killing is available in paperback or for Kindle. Details are below.