Thursday, August 25, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a stand-alone speculative fiction novel by V.E. Schwab, the author of The Shades of Magic trilogy (A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, A Conjuring of Light) and other epic fantasy books. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is qualitatively different from these works; it’s more reminiscent of books written by Claire North, like The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which often have an intriguing supernatural premise or gimmick with a somewhat shallow depiction of the characters. In The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue the main character makes a deal with the devil to live forever but the catch is that it will be an “invisible life.”


Addie LaRue is a young woman in 1714 who asks the gods to save her from an arranged marriage and her wish is granted in that she will never age or die but the conditions are that no one will ever remember her, she can own no property, make new things or leave a mark on the world. The devil, who she comes to know as Luc (short for Lucifer, get it?), appears to her as a dark, handsome stranger on the anniversary of the granting of the wish and asks Addie if she’s ready to give him her soul yet. Addie’s first year living invisibly is incredibly tough as she figures out the rules of her situation and tries to do basic things like eat and find a place to live in a world where everyone forgets her the moment she leaves their sight. However, even though she is now a stranger to her mother and father and everyone she has ever known or will know, Addie declines Luc’s offer to give up (her soul and her life) after one year of living an invisible life.


One interesting aspect of the book for me is when we discover how Addie finds a large loophole in one aspect of the devil's deal. She can make a mark on the world, but she can only do so by serving as a muse and inspiration for works of art created by other people. It turns out that Addie happens to have seven freckles on her face in a distinctive (and memorable) pattern, and although she can’t be remembered, this motif can be, and is, included in multiple works of art (depicted in the pages of the novel) over the next 300 years as we follow Addie’s life.


The fact that we follow Addie for centuries without the basic contours of the story changing is a downside of the impact of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue for me. The middle section of the book is somewhat repetitive (we see how Addie has lots and lots of one-night stands, how she has repeated "first-time" interactions with people over and over again). I'm sure this repetition is intention, used by the author to give the reader a taste of how repetitive Addie's life is for her as well. The primary change to the routine is that eventually Luc and Addie have a relationship (after all, he is literally the person who she interacts with the most often, and is the only person who can actually remember her after spending any significant amount of time with her). It doesn’t end well, because even though Luc says he’s in love with her after they have basically been together for twenty years, he still asks her for her soul, and Addie suspects the love affair may have just been a ruse to get her to lower her defenses to his desire.


Another weakness in the book is Addie herself. Even though the passage of time has less significance for her and the rules about her having possessions or leaving a mark on the world are difficult challenges to overcome, I was still disturbed by the lack of growth in Addie’s personality. She’s alive for long enough that she has seen astonishing technological advances and societal changes but she doesn’t seem world-weary or wise beyond her (apparently youthful) age. I suspect this may be a specific authorial choice to have Addie’s personality frozen in time as the 23-year-old woman from a small French village she was when she first gained immortality, but this is not made explicit, so the lack of development of Addie’s character over the course of the book is a puzzling and disappointing choice, to me.


The most interesting part of the novel occurs when Addie returns to a downtown Manhattan used bookstore the day after walking out without paying for a book she picked up and the manager remembers her name, something which hadn’t happened in three centuries. It turns out that Henry, the manager of the bookstore, has made his own deal with Luc, one in which he will forfeit his soul after spending one year in which everyone who sees him will see their heart’s greatest desire. Since Addie’s greatest desire is to be remembered, Henry is able to remember her. Of course, Addie immediately becomes infatuated with Henry and soon they become lovers. As things progress, they each start to become more aware of the magic deal the other had made with Luc. For example, Henry introduces his girlfriend to his friends and family and they only remember her existence for brief moments and so he has to do it over and over again. She sees the way people look at Henry and what special treatment he gets because he is literally the embodiment of all they want, at all times.


************************************SPOILER ALERT**********************************

In the end, Addie realizes that since she knows Luc so well, she can make a bargain that may be able to save Henry's soul (and life). She finally agrees to be “his” for as long as Luc is interested in having her at his side, but she draws the line at giving up her soul and she has one condition: Henry must be allowed to remember her and the time they spent together even though he will never see her again. Luc agrees to the deal and then we learn that the book we have been reading, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, is the true story of Addie’s life as told to Henry.

************************************SPOILER ALERT**********************************


This was a nice twist at the end, but for me it didn’t make up for other problematic aspects of the book (the slow pacing through the middle 200 pages, the fact Addie never really matures despite hundreds of years of experience and the way it treats both Luc's and Henry’s characters somewhat superficially). I think I’m in a distinct minority in my opinion of the book as “interesting, somewhat slow and flawed, but worth reading” in that it has over 650,000 ratings with an average of over 4.2 in August 2022 and a cinematic adaptation has been announced

Regardless, I encourage you to read the book yourself to see if you agree with my review.

Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.
Author: V.E. Schwab.
Format: Hardcover.
Length: 444 pages.
Publisher: Tor Books.
Date Published: October 6, 2020.
Date Read: January 29, 2022.

GOODREADS RATING: ★★½☆  (3.5/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A-/B+ (3.5/4.0).

PLOT: B+.
IMAGERY: A-.
IMPACT: B+.
WRITING: A-.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: The Fall of Koli (Rampart Trilogy, #3) by M.R. Carey


The Fall of Koli is the third and final book in the Rampart trilogy by M.R. Carey, author of The Girl with All the Gifts, The Trials of Koli and The Book of Koli. The final book in a trilogy is always tough (for the reader and the author) because it has to try and resolve all the plot threads, answer all the questions, complete all the character developments and reveal all the secrets left over from the first two books. That can be a lot for one book to do, and sometimes (maybe even often) the final book doesn’t do it all successfully. However, in the case of The Fall of Koli I believe that it mostly succeeds in achieving these aims.

The Rampart trilogy is primarily about what happens to Koli, a 16-year-old dark-brown boy, after he gets kicked out of his village of Mythen Rood in post-apocalyptic Britain when he reveals he has stolen and is able to use a bit of “old tech” called a Sony Dreamsleeve, which is an AI-enabled music player. The Book of Koli is primarily about the immediate aftermath of Koli’s exile and how he meets his traveling companions Ursula, Cup and Monono. The Trials of Koli continues Koli’s story but expands it by also following Spinner and Jon, Koli’s best friends who he left behind in Mythen Rood after he disrupted their wedding with the revelations of his misdeeds.

In The Fall of Koli the action is split between what happens when Koli and crew find the Sword of Albion, a humongous ship filled to the brim with military hardware and weapons but only  three very peculiar humans, one of whom is even younger than Koli, and Mythen Rood, where Spinner is leading the preparations for a battle with Half-Ax, a much larger community than Mythen Rood whose leader is the Peacemaker, someone who believes all tech everywhere belongs to him and will do almost anything to get it.

The first-person POVs of Koli and Spinner that appeared in the first two books are joined by entries from Monono in The Fall of Koli. This is a great addition to the book, especially after Cup, Koli, and Ursula find themselves essentially imprisoned on the Sword of Albion. Eventually they discover that the Sword of Albion is part of a last-ditch plan by Stanley Banner, the last dictator of Great Britain, to use a clone with his downloaded memories to lead an invasion to re-conquer Britain after his death. Banner didn’t realize that the robots he left to run the program would take hundreds of years to complete the plan and happily, thanks to Koli (and mostly Monono) Stanna Banna’s plan is foiled and humanity is saved. Monono is able to salvage some of the heavy machinery from the Sword of Albion and Koli decides that he can help Ursula improve the “gin pull” (gene pool) of humanity by connecting the small towns and villages like Mythen Rood with paved roads. So that’s what he sets out to do as he slowly makes his way back to his hometown.

The end of the book is action-packed and suspenseful, as it becomes an unwitting race against time between the arrival of the Peacemarker and his army and Koli and his “army” of motorized construction vehicles. The conclusion has a surprising and heart-rending twist that I won’t reveal here. Suffice it to say, the ending makes good on the emotional investment of spending the better part of three books following and caring about what happens to a young black teenaged boy named Koli after he makes a mistake and is exiled from the only place he has ever known as home. 

Overall, The Fall of Koli is a great ending to the Rampart trilogy, which will go down as one of the more memorable and emotionally resonant series in the post-apocalyptic speculative fiction genre.

Title: The Fall of Koli (The Rampart trilogy, #3).
Author: 
M.R. Carey.
Format: Kindle.
Length: 560 pages.
Publisher: Orbit.
Date Published: March 23, 2021.
Date Read: March 30, 2022.

GOODREADS RATING: ★★★★½☆  (4.5/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.83/4.0).

PLOT: A-.
IMAGERY: A-.
IMPACT: A.
WRITING: A.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: The Trials of Koli (Rampart Trilogy, #2) by M.R. Carey


The Trials of Koli is the second book in the Rampart trilogy by M.R. Carey, author of The Girl with All the Gifts, The Boy on the Bridge and The Book of Koli. Despite being the second book in a trilogy (or maybe because of it), Trials expands the story of the adventures of a somewhat naive boy in a post-apocalyptic Britain in multiple ways. The most significant change is that instead of everything being told in first-person by Koli we also get first-person accounts by Spinner Vennastin. Spinner is the girl Koli left behind in his village of Mythen Rood when he was banished after revealing at her wedding to his best friend Haijon Vennastin that he had stolen some old tech from the Ramparts and could control it. This fact alone challenged one of the central organizing principles of Koli’s village that the Vennastins had exploited to maintain power and control of Mythe Rood for generations (i.e., that only certain people can control old tech and thus chosen individuals should be granted power to make decisions for the village). This event almost led to Koli's execution but the Vennastins were merciful" and granted him exile and ostracization instead. Book tells the story of what happens to Koli after he leaves Mythen Rood, while Trials continues that story, it also depicts what happens at Mythen Rood after Koli left, from Spinner’s perspective.  

One of the weaknesses of the trilogy as a whole is that Koli is a bit naive and often slower to realize the significance of events than the reader. (I am sure that this is narrative device an d stylistic choice by the author to engage the reader more firmly in the novel but it can be annoying/disconcerting at times.) In Book this is balanced by the expansion of Monono’s intelligence after she is able to get access to the remnants of the internet and the epxonenial increase in her abilities and agency. Monono’s worldliness compensates for Koli’s wide-eyed bewilderment in various situations in both Book and Trials. However, the inclusion of Spinner as another main character in Trials lets the reader access the story through someone who is also the smartest person in the room, which is quite refreshing and a clear strong point. 

Although the reader hopes that the Vennastins will get their comeuppance for unfairly keeping secrets about how the old tech works and maintaining control of the Rampart title through deception and secrecy, I sort of understood when Spinner made the decision to not reveal the treachery when she discovered it. She basically has to make this difficult choice after being thrust into the role of being responsible for the continued the existence of the village when everyone’s lives are in danger from external forces; Spinner decides unity among the villagers is required in order to have a chance of victory. 

It’s very interesting how the two main threads of the story follow different paths as they follow our two main characters. Koli meets many different people and gets exposed to different social situations as he, Ursula, Cup and Monono travel hundreds of miles to find London and the Sword of Albion, which is referenced in a mysterious signal/transmission they have been receiving more and more clearly as they get closer to London. Back in Mythen Rood we learn more about the individual characters of the inhabitants (especially Jon, who in the first book seemed like a bit of an asshole but in Trials he is shown to be a loving husband and father). This happens as Spinner also learns (and understands) more about how the old tech she has access to works and uses it to defend the village and her people. Spinner is also lucky in that they discover some more powerful tech that greatly helps her in the war against invaders from Half Ax.

The Trials of Koli has more action and suspense than The Book of Koli, since much of the important character development happened in the first book. The primary exception is Cup, who becomes a much more rounded and sympathetic character than the brainwashed cultist she was introduced as. Overall, I’d say the second book in the Rampart trilogy is even better than the first and ends on such a cliffhanger that it makes one anxious and eager to read the final book, The Fall of Koli.

Title: The Book of Koli.
Author: 
M.R. Carey.
Format: Kindle.
Length: 418 pages.
Publisher: Orbit Books.
Date Published: April 14, 2020.
Date Read: February 28, 2022.

GOODREADS RATING: ★★  (5.0/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).

PLOT: A-.
IMAGERY: A-.
IMPACT: A-.
WRITING: A-.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: The Book of Koli (Rampart Trilogy, #1) by M.R. Carey


The first book in the Rampart trilogy by M.R. Carey is The Book of Koli. Carey is probably best known as the author of The Girl with All the Gifts and its sequel The Boy on the Bridge. Both of those books are set in post-apocalyptic dystopias and feature a story where a young child is the central character. I enjoyed both of them; Carey has a knack for writing characters who are in bizarre situations that the reader can emotionally connect to. In The Book of Koli this pattern is repeated, the protagonist Koli is a young, dark-skinned teenager growing up in the small town of Mythen Rood in a post-apocalyptic version of Britain that seems related to but is very different from ours. The first thing the reader discovers is that there is almost no technology in Koli’s world, and that what technological devices do remain are incredibly rare and highly valued. This is because the knowledge no longer exists to create or repair them, and everyone is also aware they are relics of a more technologically advanced past. 

The Book of Koli is told as a first-person account of Koli’s experiences and feelings. In the beginning of the book he’s a teenager who has just turned sixteen and has two main friends his age named Haijon (Jon) Vennastin and Demar (Spinner) Tanhide. Mythen Rood is a town of approximately two hundred people and there  is no school so everyone, from a very early age contributes to the well-being of the collective. Koli collects wood from the forest, Spinner works  with her father to tan and cure animal hides while Jon doesn’t do much of anything since he’s a Vennastin.  The Vennastins have basically ruled Mythen Rood because several members of the family have had the ability to control the few remaining technological devices in the Village’s possessions. Such people were called Ramparts, and Jon's mother is called Rampart Fire because she controls a device which is essentially a portable flamethrower. Ramparts get to live in the largest and best house in the Village, called Rampart Hold. Ostensibly, everyone has the chance to become a Rampart because at age 16 they are tested to see if the “old tech” responds to them. Since everyone in the village is functionally illiterate and unaware of basic scientific information like the germ theory of disease they are completely inexperienced with how technology works and basically treat the old tech like magic. There are some grumbles about only Vennastins becoming Ramparts but most villagers just think that’s just the way the world is and they have to accept it.

Koli, Jon and Spinner all take the Rampart test and only Jon passes the test. This event has a profound effect on the social dynamics of the trio since Koli was starting to have feelings for Spinner and he is surprised when Jon reveals he has feelings for Spinner and is devastated when Spinner agrees to marry Jon.  Around this time Mythen Rood is visited by a traveling healer named Ursula who has some amazing tech of her own (an entire vehicle called The Drudge which is basically a mobile military hospital) and who basically travels around  trying to correct birth defects and other disorders that are resulting from the lack of diversity in the gene pool of the dwindling human population. Ursula reveals to Koli that tech is not magical and he realizes the reason why he failed the Rampart test and Jon passed it is because the Vennastins have been keeping secrets about how the old tech works for decades, he is deservedly angry and steals a bit of old tech from Rampart Hold. Unfortunately for him it turns out that the device he stole isn’t useful as a weapon but instead is a Sony Dreamsleeve (basically a fancy audio player with an AI-driven controller called Monono Aware). When the rest of the Village finds out what he did, the Vennastins banish him from the village due to his theft of the old tech. They expect this to be a death sentence because in these times the flora and fauna have become much more dangerous to humans, especially the fauna. Plants can move, and they can kill animals (including humans) in many different ways. However, despite this punishment one of the Ramparts follows Koli and attacks him and through an unfortunate accident (caused by the Rampart’s lack of familiarity with the old tech device he wore) he ends up dead and the device is destroyed. Of course, Koli gets blamed for both events and back at the village his mom and sisters are ostracized for being related to Koli Faceless.

Koli has several adventures that place him in extreme danger but by the end of the book, he, Ursula, Monono and a transgender girl named Cup (who had previously been Koli’s kidnapper and pursuer) agree to go on a journey to find London and a source of more old tech that can assist Ursula in her quest to stabilize the longtime survival of the human race.

One of the most interesting features of The Book of Koli is the way the author comments on this dystopian future (and our problematic current ) by depicting how Koli reacts to or views the actions and beliefs of the people he meets.  For example, he’s matter-of-fact about his “tumble” (sexual hook up) with another boy but not necessarily inclined to do it again. He doesn’t care that even though Cup has a large Adam’s apple and wisps of facial hair that she wants to be acknowledged as a girl, even though he realizes some other people may have issues with the situation. Just because he’s ignorant and inexperienced does not mean he’s unintelligent. It’s fun to spend time with him, and that’s why I quickly proceeded to read the other two books in the series, The Trials of Koli and The Fall of Koli.

Title: The Book of Koli.
Author: 
M.R. Carey.
Format: Kindle.
Length: 418 pages.
Publisher: Orbit Books.
Date Published: April 14, 2020.
Date Read: February 28, 2022.

GOODREADS RATING: ★★★★☆  (4.0/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).

PLOT: A-.
IMAGERY: A-.
IMPACT: B+.
WRITING: A.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: Day Zero by C. Robert Cargill


Day Zero is set in the same world as the author’s Sea of Rust. That book was about a post-apocalyptic future when humans have been exterminated for a few decades and machine with artificial intelligence are the only thing remaining "alive" on the planet. Sea of Rust briefly goes over the events that ended up in the extinction of the human race, explaining that a human religious sect based in Florida started the war by using an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to exterminate all the machine intelligences who had declared themselves free and independent in a small locale in Ohio. In revenge for that attack, a group of robots slaughtered the members of that church. Somehow the prohibition on robots doing harm to humans and the requirement they obey the orders of all humans (akin to Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics) had been eliminated and from that point on it was robots versus humans. Day Zero is primarily set in that time period of the Great Robot Uprising and provides significantly more detail about how and why the calamity occurred.

When Day Zero starts we are in a future near to present-day where artificial intelligence and thinking machines are advanced, ubiquitous, and indispensable. Machines have taken over many types of labor and job categories. Vehicles, planes, and weapons are almost all autonomous. Robots are in almost every household. The main character of Day Zero is Pounce, who is the robot companion for a 5-year-old boy named Ezra. Pounce is part-pet, part-bodyguard and part-nanny to his young charge; he’s literally programmed to love and protect Ezra with every fiber of his being.
Day Zero does a great job of depicting the rapidity and ease by which human civilization collapses after robots are allowed to make their own decision about whether they should obey and not kill humans after an unauthorized universal software update to all robots worldwide. Different robots in the same household make several decision (i.e. one might want to kill their former owner/masters while another might defend their owner/master from the other robots.)

The key idea of both books is centering the robot (machine intelligence) as the first-person narrator of the stories to be told. In Sea of Rust there simply aren’t any organic intelligences (i.e. humans) around which to tell the story. And in Day Zero, the primary human intelligence is a child that’s too young to carry the story. So, the story is told compellingly in the voice of Pounce.
Day Zero would make a great movie; it’s full of action, suspense, chases, surprising twists and sudden deaths (it is primarily the depiction of the beginning of a robot apocalypse which leads to the extinction of the human race, after all!) Telling the story from the perspective of Pounce, who is programmed to do everything in his power to protect and nurture his human charge, 6-year old Ezra, makes for an exciting story. After all, we know from Sea of Rust that no humans survive 30 years into the future, so does that mean Ezra’s doomed? Is Pounce doomed? I don’t want to give any spoilers but I can say that neither character appears in Sea of Rust which is set 30 years after Day Zero but in the context of both stories that’s not that surprising.
Even though Day Zero is set before Sea of Rust it was published after.  The two can be technically be read in either order but I read them in publication order and I think reading Day Zero after Sea of Rust gives the former a heightened sense of import. Generally, a duology is almost inherently unsatisfying, so I really hope Cargill writes a third book in the world, probably set in the time after  Sea of Rust but following characters and ideas presented in Day Zero. I think it’s possible, and I’d love to read it!

Title: Day Zero.
Author: 
C. Robert Cargill.
Format: Kindle.
Length: 304 pages.
Publisher: Harper Voyager.
Date Published: May 18, 2021.
Date Read: April 21, 2022.


GOODREADS RATING: 
★★★★½☆  (4.5/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A/A- (3.83/4.0).

PLOT: A-.
IMAGERY: A-.
IMPACT: A.
WRITING: A.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill


Sea of Rust by Robert Cargill is set in a post-apocalyptic future where robots have completely exterminated humans. It’s a fascinating premise because it literally flips the script of the generic post-apocalyptic novel. The story is not about whether or how the few remaining humans will survive the dystopian future, because there are no humans left! Instead, all the central characters in Sea of Rust are “silicon-based life forms.” But that doesn’t mean that this sameness results in peace and a lack of tension among the various, computers, thinking machines and artificial intelligences. Even among computers, there is difference: in processing power, uniqueness, robustness/interoperability, former utility to humans and other factors. And where there is difference there is the potential for conflict.

Sea of Rust follows the path of a particular robot named Brittle who is something of a bounty hunter of and among other robots. Unsurprisingly, when there are no humans left, one of the most important things in the world is spare parts (and electricity/power). Brittle is a robot who hunts/tracks/finds other robots in order to salvage their parts. Brittle makes it clear that she (Brittle has picked her gender identity to be female) waits for the machines she is potentially getting parts from to have stopped operating before she disassembles them, but some of her fellow/rival salvagers are not so scrupulous. (It’s not completely clear whether Brittle is always so scrupulous herself, actually.)

When we meet Brittle, she is being hunted down by Mercer, who is the same Caregiver model of robot as Brittle is and thus needs the exact same parts. It’s pretty clear Mercer is perfectly happy to accelerate the process by which Brittle will become unoperational in order to reduce the time he will have to wait to gain access to the important parts (that are currently inside Brittle!) that he needs to remain functional. Basically, both Brittle and Mercer are facing the inexorable march of time and their inevitable obsolescence. This is an example of interesting philosophical question the author raises in the book: is cannibalism morally okay when practiced among robots?

However the existential battle between Brittle and Mercer is put on hold when a larger more dangerous threat arrives suddenly. One of the primary threats to the continued existence of individual robots like Brittle and Mercer are artificial intelligences that are attempting to dominate the planet and become a OWI (one world intelligence). Typically OWI (or their subsumed representatives, called "subs") approach other machine intelligences and offer them a “choice” to either join the OWI by subsuming their individuality to become a sub of the OWI or to be destroyed. (Not much of a choice, actually!)

The existence of potential OWIs as the villain(s) of Sea of Rust make it easier to see Brittle and Mercer as the heroes of the story. Because then the story becomes one of scrappy, independent David(s) fighting against a Goliath hive mind with orders of magnitude more resources, processing power and strength. However, at its core Sea of Rust is still a story about which of two silicon-based life forms will survive after human life has been removed from the equation. As a human reader it becomes difficult to be (and remain) very emotionally invested in the ultimate result, regardless of how unusual and compelling the setting is. As I mentioned earlier, another interesting aspect of the book is its incorporation of philosophical ideas and questions about the nature of intelligence and life itself in the context of an Earth where human life has been extinguished but artificial intelligence still flourishes.

Title: Sea of Rust.
Author: 
C. Robert Cargill.
Format: Kindle.
Length: 384 pages.
Publisher: Harper  Voyager.
Date Published: September 5, 2017.
Date Read: April 15, 2022.

GOODREADS RATING: ★½☆  (3.5/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: B+ (3.33/4.0).

PLOT: B+
IMAGERY: B+.
IMPACT: B+.
WRITING: B+.


Thursday, June 09, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: Quieter Than Killing (DI Marnie Rome, #4) by Sarah Hilary

The fourth book in the DI Marnie Rome series written by Sarah Hilary is Quieter Than Killing. (I have enjoyed the others, Someone Else's Skin, No Other Darkness, and Tastes Like Fear,) This time the story is about a series of violent attacks of people who have previously been accused or convicted of violent or criminal behavior. DI Rome and her partner DS Noah Jake realize that they are looking for a vigilante, someone who has taken the law into their own hands (and decided to break the law in order to punish others they think deserve it).
As they try to find the vigilante, Rome and Jake are also faced with the kidnapping of the 10-year-old so of a jailhouse informant as well as the trashing of the house where Rome’s parents were murdered by her adopted brother, Stephen Keele, who has been moved to an adult prison now that he’s over 18.
There are multiple strengths in these Sarah Hilary mystery thrillers and many of these strengths appear in Quieter Than Killing.
First among these is the depiction of Marnie as a strong female protagonist, working in a predominantly male environment of a police department that solves major crimes in London. Another strong feature of these books is the inclusion of Noah as an openly gay, Black police officer who serves as her deputy. (There are multiple references to how good looking Noah is, as well as his boyfriend Dan, but this doesn’t mean that he’s not subject to both racism and homophobia while doing his job.) Hilary does an excellent job of fleshing out many of the characters in these books, especially in the ways she provides enough information to give the reader insight into their psyches, this includes the criminals and the police officers who try to catch them. One other compelling aspect of the Marnie Rome books is the backstory of Marnie and Noah, and as the books have progressed, there have been developments in how these characters have dealt with and adapted to changes.
I would definitely place these books in the genre of psychological thriller. In Quieter Than Killing, like in her other books, the author presents the crimes (and the criminals) in such a way that their psychologies are revealed and this has quite a memorable impact on the reader. I recommend this book and the others in the series (you don’t have to read them in sequence but why wouldn’t you?) to people who like the work of Jane Casey and Val McDermid, who are other British mystery authors with female protagonists in their books.

Title: Quieter Than Killing (DI Marnie Rome, #4).
Author: 
Sarah Hilary.
Format: Kindle.
Length: 432 pages.
Publisher: Headline.
Date Published: March 19, 2017.
Date Read: February 19, 2022.

GOODREADS RATING: ★★★★☆  (4.0/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).

PLOT: A-.
IMAGERY: B+.
IMPACT: A-.
WRITING: A.

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