Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome and her partner DS Noah Jake are conveniently at a women’s shelter when a resident attempts to murder her husband. Despite the plethora of witnesses, however, this case is not as clear-cut as it seems. Being a crime novel, Someone Else’s Skin takes readers through a variety of twists and turns, but the end result is ultimately lackluster.Many of my issues with Someone Else’s Skin are really just personal annoyances with the crime genre: the original suspect is never the guilty party; the true guilty party always reveals his entire evil plan just when it seems that he may actually get away with it; the protagonist always has a dark, sorted past the eventually catches up with him. These things ALWAYS HAPPEN in this type of novel, so I can’t really fault Hilary for following suit. That being said, it doesn’t make the existence of these elements any less annoying.

While Hilary’s characters are certainly dark and moody, they appear more like caricatures of the genre instead of genuine people with whom readers can identify. At first glance, Rome’s emo tattoos seem like a unique twist, but the broody scrawlings are ripped straight from the pages of Gillian Flynn’s 2006 Sharp Objects. Moreover, Flynn’s use of this idea is superior since her Camille Preaker actually carves phrases into her own skin, making her way more badass than Marnie Rome could ever hope to be. On top of that, we have DS Jake, who is black, Jamaican, and gay. It’s like Hilary forgot to incorporate any diversity in her characters, so she decided to cover all of her bases with Jake.

I know all of my comments are pretty negative, but I actually did not hate this book. The pacing moves the plot forward nicely, and although I wasn’t particularly surprised by any of the twists, I still found myself compelled to keep reading.  The cliche’s are a bit heavy-handed, which is the real downfall here. Hilary tried very hard to write an atmospheric page-turner, so much of the novel feels forced and contrived. Take the random sex scene she throws in at the end, and DS Jake in general – she wants so much to abide by genre guidelines that her plot and characters suffer. Someone Else’s Skin is meant to be the first in a series, so I am curious to see if Hilary fins her footing by the second installment.


Oh! And a special “thank you” to Penguin Books for the advanced paperback copy of Someone Else’s Skin 🙂

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