‘Someone Else’s Skin’

Well hello there, what a delight to see you! I’ve just put the kettle on if you fancy a cuppa…

It’s been a beautiful spring day here but unfortunately my day has largely been spent indoors attending to various tasks, including a declaration of war on pests and a victory over technology.

A few cheeky ants have managed to breach my kitchen today, much earlier in the year than usual and certainly not by the back door where I’m used to tackling them.  They seemed to magically appear by my sink with no warning, no obvious direction of approach and no fanfare – one at a time, they’re randomly just there.  Rincewind and I spent an obsessive 25 minutes keeping watch before I left to stock up on my tools of war and in that time he only noticed one to run away from (honestly, he’s such a coward!).

My victory over technology involved making a printer submit to my technical wizardry when I set it up today.  Alright, wizardry is perhaps too strong a description for my skills;  maybe sheer luck and pleading is a more honest description!  It may not sound much but given how I usually wail in frustration and call someone to help me when it comes to these things, I’m rather pleased with myself.

And now on to my review of a book that I finished reading earlier this week.

Someone Else’s Skin was Sarah Hilary‘s debut novel which follows Detective Inspector Marnie Rome as she finds herself at the scene of an attempted murder in a women’s refuge, opening the door on a trail of lies, deceit and domestic violence.

The book challenges some assumptions society can make about domestic abuse and this makes for some interesting plot developments along the way.  Although cool and collected most of the time, DI Rome’s frustration is palpable as she hovers between professional conduct and a darker temptation to get results for the victims by any means necessary.  The reader also sees her gentler side and her battle to understand a horrific incident from her past.

As the novel progresses, a niggling feeling develops that something isn’t quite adding up in the situation with two key women from the refuge and the true picture remains tantalisingly close but just out of grasp until the climax of the story.  Intertwining the past and present lives of the characters gradually builds a realisation of manipulation, fear and abuse in often unexpected ways.

Like a gothic horror movie, Hilary only allows the reader a glimpse around the corner, never revealing what’s really happening, increasing the sense of unease.  Each time I was sure I had it all figured out, another curve ball was thrown, leaving me grasping once again in confusion as I tried to make sense of the new reality.  At one point towards the end I thought it was all over then realised that with several chapters to go, I couldn’t relax yet.  The ending did not disappoint, with surprises right up to the last page.

This skilfully woven plot serves as a caution that ghosts of the past can haunt someone’s present and with the right (unfortunate) combination of toxic circumstances, can lead them to feed on this darkness to become the nightmare that will later plague others.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book even if you are not a crime fan;  the theme, twists and characters make it a riveting read.

As a final note, I should perhaps mention here that I grew up next door to a family who suffered at the hands of the man of the house.  Everyone knew what was happening when the wife, I’ll call her Claire, wore dark sunglasses even in winter and had yet another sprained wrist from “falling over the dog.”  The police were called on countless occasions when the screaming and thuds became ever louder but in the late 80’s, they said their hands were tied unless this man attacked his wife outside of their front door.  Eventually he turned his attention to his 13 year old stepson and this gave Claire the strength to leave.  The man was never charged.

I truly hope that anyone reading this who has suffered or is suffering from abuse in any of it’s devastating forms is able to seek support and be safe.

And now to lighten my mood, I’m off to make another cup of tea and try to convince Rincewind to move away from where we saw the ants.

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