Review: ‘TASTES LIKE FEAR’ by Sarah Hilary

‘Tastes Like Fear’, the third book in the D.I. Marnie Rome series, will not disappoint fans of award-winning author Sarah Hilary or those passionate about crime fiction.

Set against the louring presence of Battersea Power Station, ‘Tastes Like Fear’ is about ‘getting under the city’s skin’:  the Garrett Estate with its brutal, concrete tower blocks, a graffitied subway  strewn with the lost and abandoned and an unfinished luxury penthouse  – all metaphors for a city in crisis. From the beginning we, as readers, are unsettled and, as the story progresses, are propelled into a world where nothing adds up and all assumptions are challenged. A fatal car crash is not as it seems. Girls running away from families, who may or may not be damaged, seek shelter and find it – with Harm. Who or what is Harm? And what is his motivation? As the story strands mesh together in a tapestry of loss, grief and terror, it is up to D.I Marnie Rome, suffering from her own personal tragedy,  to unpick the threads and make sense of it all. And only then can we breathe a sigh of relief and relax.

This is a riveting read. Sarah Hilary admits she doesn’t plot her novels before writing the first draft, yet there’s a complexity and deftness to the narrative with tension mounting as we are drawn through a labyrinth of dark spaces and dead ends. The revelations are unpredictable but not forced – completely true to the characters but we don’t see them coming. All the characters – victims, perpetrators and the police protagonists, Marnie and her sidekick D.S. Noah Jake, are drawn with skill and subtlety. We know these people – and people like them. That is what makes Sarah Hilary’s novels transcend the genre. The writing is superb: voices (and the story is told through a range of perspectives) ring true.  Description is nuanced but alive and the story pacy and completely unputdownable.

Tastes Like Fear  will be out in print on Thursday, April 7th.  Come along to the launch at Toppings, Bath to hear Sarah read and discuss her latest thriller. Tickets here . Or  you could write off the week and read the two equally compelling books preceding it: Someone Else’s Skin  winner of the Theakston’s Old Peculier 2015 Crime Novel of the Year and No Other Darkness , shortlisted for Best Paperback Original in the Barry Awards

Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarah_hilary