It is both a virtue and a curse when one doesn’t require a great deal of sleep. Sometimes I feel – when I’m wide awake in the wee small hours with only the sound of urban foxes outside my window suggesting something else is alive — that I’d prefer to be like ordinary people who need eight hours shuteye. But here’s the virtue of this unusual state: it gives one ample time to catch up with all the writers one wants to read; sometimes they are old favourites, sometimes new discoveries. And – a real pleasure — sometimes in these nocturnal explorations I encounter the work of writer who (while moving in familiar waters) demonstrates an innovative and quirky imagination, transforming narratives that with whose accoutrements we’re familiar. Debut writer Sarah Hilary is most decidedly in that category, and even though her character Detective Inspector Marnie Rome may initially appear to owe something to other female coppers such as Lynda la Plante’s Jane Tennison, Marnie turns out to be very much her own woman – as is Hillary herself, with her crisp and direct style.

DI Rome is dispatched to a woman’s shelter with her partner Detective Sergeant Noah Jake. Lying stabbed on the floor is one of the husbands of a woman from the shelter. Rome finds herself opening the proverbial can of worms, and a slew of dark secrets will be exposed before a final violent confrontation in a kitchen.

As well as functioning as a well-honed police procedural, this is very much a novel of character — Marnie Rome in particular is strikingly well realised, and even such issues as domestic abuse are responsibly incorporated into the fabric of the novel. Someone Else’s Skin is a book that hits the ground running, and readers will be keen to see more of the tenacious Marnie Rome.

Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary Is published by Headline

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