Behind Closed Doors

Someone Else's Skin by Sarah Hilary

Release Date:
 June 24, 2014
Publisher: Penguin | Penguin Books
Pages: 416 pages
Source & Format: Publisher; Paperback
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Five years ago, a shocking and bloody crime left Detective Inspector Marnie Rome’s parents dead. Not even her partner, Detective Sergeant Noah Jake, knows much about Marnie’s past. Though as one of the few gay officers on the force, Noah’s not one to over-share about his private life either.

By chance, Marnie and Noah are at the domestic violence shelter when Hope Proctor stabs her husband, Leo. It should be an open and shut case of self-defense, but none of the eight witnesses tells quite the same story. And the question remains: How did Leo get into the secure building? As the violence spirals, Marnie finds herself drawn into a place where the past casts long shadows and she must tread carefully to survive. 

Thoughts on Someone Else's Skin
When I accepted the review copy for Someone Else's Skin, I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself into. I didn't really read the summary that closely, but I'd enjoyed several of the thrillers I'd read recently from Penguin so I decided to give it a shot.

Honestly, I don't think I've ever felt so torn about a book before! I always mark a book as read on Goodreads as soon as a finish, as well as give it my initial star rating. With Someone Else's Skin, I actually had to leave the rating blank because I was so undecided on how I wanted to rate it. Before I go into why, let me give you a little background on this book.

Someone Else's Skin is the first book in a brand-new crime series, and it introduces Detective Marnie Rome and her partner, Detective Sergeant Noah Jake. There are three main storylines in this book:
  1. Marnie's parents died five years earlier in a shocking and bloody crime. The book opens with a flashback to that scene when Marnie realizes that something bad has happened to her family. The shocking part of the story is who killed them, which is slowly revealed in Someone Else's Skin. But the big question is why?
  2. The next storyline is what initially brings Marnie and Noah to a domestic violence shelter. A man has had his hand cut off, and everyone is pretty positive about who did it. The only problem? There's no proof to convict him. Marnie and Noah are hoping that the man's sister, who is hiding out at the shelter, will agree to testify against him since she has witnessed his violence firsthand.
  3. Finally, Marnie and Noah arrive at the shelter right as Hope Proctor, a woman staying there, has stabbed her husband, Leo. The case should be open and shut since it appeared to be self-defense, but details aren't adding up. How was Leo able to get in, and why are the witnesses all telling slightly different stories?
Of these three stories, I had no real issues with the first two. The truth about who killer her parents is slowly revealed, and you begin to understand just how complicated and shocking their murder was for Marnie. This is the one storyline that isn't really resolved by the end of the book, and I suspect it's because it will be a thread throughout the series. Marnie's past certainly contributes to who she is today, and I think Hilary will be slow to reveal all the layers of this story. 

The second storyline, which initially seemed like it was going to be the driving one in the book, is mostly resolved by the end. Based on the way I read the ending, I don't think Hilary has to return to those characters unless she wants to flesh it out a bit more. This story remained mostly on the back burner throughout the book, and it wasn't the most pressing mystery. Since they were pretty confident about who needed to be charged, the only thing that was really up in the air was whether they'd be able to convict him.

And then there's the last storyline. Honestly, I didn't suspect that this storyline was going to be nearly as dark and as twisted as it ended up being. Since all of the women are at a domestic violence shelter, it's important to note that physical and sexual assault does play a role in each of their stories. However, there is one character in particular who just made my stomach hurt. Personally, there were so many things in this book that just made me really uncomfortable. I think thrillers and mysteries to an extent, but I try to avoid ones that are really graphic because I just don't want those images in my mind. Unfortunately, I didn't really see it coming with this book until it was kind of too late. At that point, I was curious enough about the main characters that I wanted to continue and see how it ended.

So, here's why I'm so torn on Someone Else's Skin: it's a well-written and gripping story, but it was way too twisted and graphic (at times) for my personal preference. For example, I've read and really enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, but I won't read Sharp Objects or Dark Places because I know they'll be too much for me. If you're the kind of reader who finds those type of stories fascinating, then I would recommend this book to you. But if you're more like me, I'd have a hard time telling you to read this one without cautioning you a bit first. 

I liked Marnie and Noah, and I was certainly interested in Marnie's backstory. I enjoyed the way certain pieces of this puzzle fell into place, and I thought it was a compelling read. The pacing kept me moving through the book quickly, and I was curious about how it was all going to end. But my stomach hurt while I was reading it, and I did have to kind of skip over certain scenes. 

So, I'm actually not going to include a rating with my review. It was a well-written book, but I found it too disturbing to really recommend it. I personally didn't guess what the twist was going to be, but I also don't read this genre extensively so I don't know if other readers would see it coming. Either way, the writing, pacing and main characters are deserving of four stars, but I didn't really "enjoy" this book enough to rate it that way. But someone who gravitates to darker and more twisted mysteries should consider giving this book a shot!

So Quotable
"She fights him. She's not this person. She won't be this person - the one who collapses and weeps at the roadside, who can't take the knock on the door, who falls and never gets back up again. The victim. She won't be the victim."

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. I was not compensated in any way for my review.


  1. Thanks, Hannah, for this thoughtful and honest review. I really appreciate the time and thought you put into writing this, especially when you didn't enjoy the book. I hope you might give Marnie's next story a read, as it's very different. Thanks again.

  2. That's quite the quandary -- when a book is stylistically good but just hard to take with how graphic it is. That doesn't happen often for me, but sometimes a book will hit home with me, because of my job in the human services/relationship violence field and like, I just can't. Ya know? Anyways, Someone Else's Skin sounds pretty intense and while I am not normally a mystery thriller person, I think variety is a good thing and this sounds like a book I might find interesting on audio.

  3. I'm not quite sure how to feel about this. I'm perfectly fine with graphic scenes - the most intense, the better - so at least in that aspect this is a total Leah book. On the other hand, I'm not sure if the story itself might be a bit too much. Multiple storylines are hard to wrap up nicely and when it's a first book in a series there's so. much. that needs to happen; I don't want to finally get a feel for the main characters in the seventh book.

    I really like Penguin, really like them, and have had fantastic success with many of their books.. I'm so conflicted, Hannah!! On the one hand, YES! But on the other...

  4. Hmmm -- I can see how this would be a tough call for you. I love a good thriller, and intense/twisted/etc. usually works for me in that genre, but then again, it's a series. UGH -- I have so many to read as it is, I hesitate to add new ones to the list -- Bookworm Problems!

  5. Oh my goodness. I don't enjoy thrillers and mystery books very much for the same reason as you. I've not read Gone Girl yet because I'm too afraid of it, although I did just recently read one that was not bad at all and I enjoyed it very much. But there was no graphic quality to it, in my opinion, and that's why I liked it. I know that that would bother me in the same way that it bothered you, and I love your honesty here. I probably would have felt the same way you did about getting so far into the book and then a twist occurring but wanting to stick it out, so high five to you for doing so. And thanks for letting me know about this one.

    In reading That Night by Chevy Stevens, the book that I did enjoy, I realized how many people out there DO enjoy these books, though, and I find that fascinating.

  6. Whoa. Basically, I just think Someone Else's Skin sounds quite... INTENSE. I'm not much for thrillers/mysteries in the first place, and stories that lean heavily toward the graphic are guaranteed to freak me out, so thanks for the warning! (I'm still a bit curious about the resolution of these mysteries, if I'm being perfectly honest though.)


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