Publication Date ~ May 16th 2019 (Ebook & Hardback)
Category: Crime, Murder, Mystery, Suspense, Police Procedural, Book Review
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.
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 tense and disturbing look at gang culture, manipulation and the exploitation and murder of children, very relevant and important issues in today’s world.
Beginning with a short prologue that hooked me in immediately, one that could be taken several different ways, we’re then taken back forty eight hours. DI Marnie Rome and the team are investigating the terrible victimisation of children, gangs and the associated knife crime. Several children have been murdered for no apparent reason and the case is proving difficult for the investigating team. Then teenager Raphaela Belsham is killed in a drive by shooting in the affluent area of Muswell Hill, raising the profile of the case significantly.
To Marnie it gave the impression that the death of a black boy in a poor area was somehow of less consequence than the death of a girl from a middle class family who lived in a more upmarket part of town. Surely both were as sad and pointless as each other? But people in run down areas are not given the same understanding or respect. Frankie Reece’s mother is the voice of reason and calls for an end to the violence and senseless killing, giving a sense of hope.
One of the main focuses in this instalment is on DS Noah Jake who, although he’s having counselling, is lost in grief following events from the previous story. Such powerfully mixed feelings of loss and guilt are manifesting in an unusual and fascinating way. Noah is aware his subconscious is creating scenarios and back and forth dialogue, which seem to bring a measure of comfort. They also allow him to voice thoughts and feelings he wouldn’t be able to under normal circumstances, if only to himself. This, combined with the children’s faces on the murder board, the links to his own struggle with grief and the racial antagonism directed towards him, makes it all so much more difficult to do the job he’s committed to, and dangerous risks are taken.
Marnie and Noah’s partnership is as strong as ever and it’s a struggle to know the best way to help him, her sympathy and concern is obvious and understandable.
Sarah Hilary has created an unsettling and grim picture—it’s an emotional and sometimes difficult read with young boys dying from gang related violence and knife crime which is on the increase in London, devastating families and communities. Never Be Broken doesn’t pull any punches with the reality of the situation, or the racism and the differing reactions of parents to the crimes. The fact that sensitive social issues are woven into the storylines of this series make them more realistic and current, atmospheric and powerful, always providing much food for thought. The writing and characterisation is as accomplished and insightful as ever.
This is another compelling read in a series that never fails to deliver.
I was lucky enough to win an advance copy in a competition on Mary Picken’s blog, Live and Deadly which I chose to read and review. Many thanks to Sarah Hilary.
Sarah’s debut, Someone Else’s Skin, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year and was a World Book Night selection. The Observer’s Book of the Month (“superbly disturbing”) and a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, it was a Silver Falchion and Macavity Award finalist in the US. No Other Darkness, the second in the series was shortlisted for a Barry Award. Her DI Marnie Rome series continued with Tastes Like Fear (longlisted for Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2017) and Quieter Than Killing (Observer’s Thriller of the Month). Come and Find Me was published in 2018, with Never Be Broken to come in 2019.