Intertwined cases of battered women lead a detective on a journey of self-discovery.
When DI Marnie Rome investigates the case of a man whose left hand was chopped off by a scimitar, she and her partner, DS Noah Jake, discover that the person of interest in the crime, Narif Mirza, has a sister in a women’s refuge. Ayana Mirza is blind in one eye because Narif and her other brothers threw bleach in her face for dishonoring the family, and she’s hiding from them in the shelter. While Marnie and Noah are interviewing her as a witness to her brother’s violence, one of the other women in hiding, Hope Proctor, gets an unwelcome visitor, her husband, Leo, who sneaks in a knife that Hope uses to stab him. Much as Noah despises Leo, he saves his life, and both Hope and Leo are rushed to the hospital. When Hope finds out that her husband will live, she leaves with her friend Simone Bissell, another abuse victim, who was held captive for a year in a basement room. Then Ayana’s brothers kidnap her from the refuge, and Marnie has to find the missing victims with the help of Victim Support worker Ed Belloc; at the same time, she’s dealing with the ongoing effects of her parents’ murders five years ago. Her foster brother stabbed them to death when he was 14, and Marnie has been visiting him over the years in hopes of understanding why he did it. A violent act of revenge leaves her feelings, including her attraction to Ed, in even greater turmoil. And her failure to share a startling discovery about one of the abusers threatens the life of someone close to her in this dense and disturbing tale.
Although Hilary’s debut weaves a knotty plot and then drops threads along the way, Marnie’s courage and her determination to help the abuse victims create a strong center.