About The Book
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.
Then Raphaela Belsham is killed. She’s thirteen years old, her father is a man of influence, from a smart part of town. And she’s white. Suddenly, the establishment is taking notice.
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 by Sarah Hilary is the 6th in the D.I Marnie Rome series and is blistering read which examines knife crime, social imbalance, grief and bereavement. This is the second of this series that I have read (the first was Come and Find Me), and I really, really must read the rest because these books are something very special.
Children are dying in London. Knifed in parks, shot on streets and the wall of photographs featuring the faces of these innocents in D.I Marnie Rome’s incident room is growing larger by the day. She and D.S Noah Jake are advised to stay away, to investigate from afar, that is until thirteen year old Raphaela Belsham is murdered on her way home from getting a coffee. Suddenly they must go and see her devastated and shaken parents and be a visible presence. The difference? The faces on the photographs are all of black children from deprived areas of London and Raffa is the daughter of a wealthy white family.
She had been visiting Erskine Tower with her school, meeting with elderly residents, as part of a project to examine how life in London has changed. Erskine Tower was once a lovely place to live but it has been inhabited by drug dealers and criminals and Marnie and Noah believe that there may be a link between the tower and Raffa’s death. Her family refuse to believe this and won’t acknowledge that Raffa may have found herself in a situation she couldn’t get out of. There is a battle of wills between her aggressive and grieving father, Guy and Marnie and Noah, with him blaming the police and black people for society’s ills. Noah bears the brunt of his anger and his words strike like knives.
Noah is trying to his best to work this case but he is stymied by grief and loss. He has visions of his brother, Sol, who has died in prison, stabbed whilst in the yard. Sol is with him wherever he goes, in his bedroom whilst he is getting dressed, on his commute to work, skulking around the staircases and corridors of Erskine Tower. Noah’s sadness is palpable and the conversations he has with his brother are heartbreaking. He knows he isn’t real, knows that seeing Sol lazing on his sofa, feet on the coffee table is something he should be worried about, but he can’t bring himself to tell anybody, because telling means Sol will disappear and he can’t bring himself to do that yet.
This thread of grief and loss runs through the book with Noah’s bereavement casting a long shadow. It is written beautifully and poetically, and yes, it is difficult at times, grief and loss is, but it is important to address. Used as a frame to explore the loss of children who are victims of knife crime and lost to gangs, it allows us to examine the darker parts of grief.
Racism, socio and economic divisions and gang culture at the core of this book. Sarah Hilary has taken issues that we read about online every day and explored in great depth the deprivation, fear and boredom that combine to create the class divide. At one point a character says that London is made up of layers, and this is so true. Wealthy businessmen rub shoulders with gang members whilst houses that cost millions of pounds are minutes away from Grenfell Tower, a spectre that is visible from the windows of Erskine Tower. As this story builds it becomes apparent that the aim of this book isn’t to find out whodunnit, it is to understand why these things happen and to shine a light on prevalent issues that are very, very real.
This is a wonderfully powerful and affecting book written by an accomplished and talented writer. If you haven’t read a Sarah Hilary book before then you are missing out, she is a force to be reckoned with.
About The Author
Sarah Hilary’s debut, Someone Else’s Skin, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2015 and was a World Book Night selection for 2016. The Observer’s Book of the Month (‘superbly disturbing’) and a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, it has been published worldwide. No Other Darkness, the second in the
series was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the US. Her DI Marnie Rome series continued with Tastes Like Fear, Quieter Than Killing and Come And Find Me.
Where You Can Buy It
My thanks to Headline and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for an advanced copy of Never Be Broken and an invitation on to the Blog Tour. Never Be Broken by Sarah Hilary is published in both ebook and hardcover.