Thursday, 7 April 2016

Tastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary

review by Maryom
DI Marnie Rome and her team have been searching for missing teenager, May Beswick, for twelve weeks, so when a girl is spotted leaving the site of a car crash, their first hope is that it might be her. But this girl, covered in scratches and dressed only in a man's shirt, has disappeared too, seemingly walking on auto-pilot, into the path of traffic but away again without harm. Following the trail of this unknown girl leads Rome and her DS, Noah Jake, into the world of homeless teens living rough on the streets and a sinister man who offers help and shelter but only on his increasingly controlling terms.

I've been saying this here and there on social media since I first read this, but it's worth saying again - I think Tastes Like Fear is Sarah Hilary's best book yet! It's written in a way to entice the reader in - alternating the investigation from Rome and Jake's point of view with first person insights into the world of the 'rescued' girls, using dialogue to set the scene, forward the plot and reveal character, and, of course, delivering a tense, tightly-plotted story-line.

With a mystery girl appearing and vanishing like a figment of imagination, not quite on page one but nearly, I was hooked immediately. Following the twists and turns of the team's investigation I was variously chilled, intrigued, shocked, and frequently surprised - for the shadowy world where runaways live almost in plain sight is one in which people are rarely what they seem to be; not only the man known as 'Harm', who is menacing and believable enough for the reader to feel the fear he radiates, but other characters as well. (I'm not going to list the others for fear of spoilers, though most parents won't be surprised to know that their teens keep all sorts of secrets from them)

Hilary's special knack has always been to get inside the head of her, frequently warped, characters, and she does that again here, entering the mindset of the teenage runaways, looking for somewhere to belong and call 'home', and 'Harm' who offers this to the girls; she presents even the villain as a believable complex person, for whom at times, it's possible to feel understanding if not quite sympathy.

As you'd expect, the villain's true identity is kept a closely guarded secret till the end, although, in retrospect, the clues leading to it were there all along, so it doesn't spring out as a total, unbelievable, surprise.

This is most definitely a series that goes from strength to strength, so I'm definitely looking  forward to what the author has in store for Marnie Rome and Noah Jake on their next appearance.

Maryom's review - 5 stars 
Publisher - 
Headline Publishing
Genre - adult, crime, police procedural,

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