There’s been a riot at Cloverton Prison. Almost unimaginable violence had occurred and, hidden by smoke from a fire, a prisoner has escaped. Michael Vokey had been writing to two women, women who may now be in the cross hairs of a violent and dangerous man. Now Marnie Rome and her team have to find Michael Vokey before he answers one of the women’s pleas of ‘come and find me’.
A new Sarah Hilary novel is always one of the highlights of my reading year. As ever with her writing, I was immediately drawn into the story, glad to be back with well-loved characters and knowing I’d be guaranteed a story with a difference. I wasn’t disappointed.
The chapters alternate between Marnie and her team investigating the riot and Vokey’s escape with the inner monologue of Ted Elms, Vokey’s cellmate. This allows the story to evolve in layers. I did suspect the final outcome before the big reveal but that allowed me to scour even more for clues and enjoy watching Marnie and Co reach the satisfying conclusion.
Familiar characters returned and whilst it was Marnie’s investigation, Noah Jake seemed to feature more heavily. The fractured relationship with his brother Sol continued and was developed after the ending of the last novel. The main character however, was one that actually didn’t really appear on the page, that of Michael Vokey. He’s escaped at the start of the novel and we only really find out about him from the people who circled his life. The character of Vokey emerges from the narratives of Ruth and Lara, who write to him in prison, from Ted, from his prison officer, his sister and his victim. As such he is both a real character, easily imagined and something of an enigma. Aiden Duffy makes a welcome return after featuring in Quieter Than Killing. I’m not sure of the reader is supposed to be charmed by him but this reader was. Some of Marnie’s actions did leave me feeling a little disappointed with her though. Hopefully she will have seen the error of her ways before the next novel!
Whilst not strictly necessary I would advise any new readers to start with Sarah Hilary’s first novel, Someone Else’s Skin and to read the series in order. Mainly so that you don’t miss out on a cracking set of books.
Come and Find Me is a worthy addition to the Marnie Rome series. Brilliant as always.
So. This book. It’s supposed to be Gothic, and it is written in the Gothic style, but it isn’t the least bit suspenseful or spooky. It starts out promisingly enough (if you don’t mind tales told in the present tense by overly dramatic omniscient narrators—which I do mind but will overlook for a good story, but ugh, getting ahead of myself), introducing Helen and Karel and Thea, three broken friends dealing with various issues. Helen is punishing herself for some past transgression and has been denying herself pleasure of all sorts for two decades. Karel and Thea are dealing with the fallout of Thea’s stroke, which has drastically altered the shape of their life together. So far so good, right? Interesting people with interesting problems. All the makings for a decent literary novel.
Then in came Melmoth, the legend they all obsess over to some degree, and that’s when the wheels fell off and the train crashed and my enjoyment died in flames. Screaming. (Now who’s being overly dramatic, eh?)
The story of Helen, Karel, and Thea is interrupted every so often by other stories, letters and diaries and memoirs that all relate testimonies of or encounters with Melmoth the Witness. I don’t know if it was the abrupt tonal shifts, or the odd mixing of narrative styles, or an inability to connect with or care about the little vignettes of tragedy being thrown at me, or a combination of all of the above, but these were the dullest, dreariest parts of the book. I probably would have stopped at the second one (about 75 pages in), but I was actually invested in Thea, at least, and I wanted to see where her story would go. So I did a lot of speed reading, which I haven’t done in over a decade because the fibro fog pretty much guarantees that I’ll retain zero vital info that way, but I couldn’t be arsed giving this my full attention and I don’t care if I can’t remember it later this afternoon.
TL; DR, the title character ruins what could have been a perfectly good book about much more interesting characters. Alas.
I read this for the Halloween Bingo 2018 Free square.