Hidden by Katy Gardner

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Hidden by Katy Gardner

Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A well-paced psychological thriller set in an old warehouse in north Kent. It has a clever plot, good characterisation and a spine-chilling feel to it. It's recommended by Bookbag.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: August 2006
Publisher: Michael Joseph Ltd
ISBN: 0718146816

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In just over a year Mel Stenning has fallen in love, left her job with an estate agent in London, married and moved with her new husband and seven-year-old daughter to an old warehouse in Kent which they're planning on converting into a dream home. She's also given birth to her son. Her daughter, Poppy, hasn't taken well to the changes and when she goes missing in the course of a game of hide-and-seek Mel thinks that she might just be hiding to frighten her. It's soon obvious though that she's nowhere in the house and suspicion falls on her husband, Simon, whose car was heard leaving soon after Poppy went missing.

The police had been at the house quite a bit recently as Simon is being investigated on suspicion of murdering one woman and of being involved in the disappearance of another. He's never been willing to discuss his personal affairs with Mel and she's shocked to find how little she really does know about him. Has he brutally murdered one woman and possibly another? Why is it that even his own mother doesn't trust how he behaves with women? Why would he snatch Poppy?

As I began to read this book I really wondered if I would like it. I'm cautious and logical by nature and people who throw up their lives and make changes on a whim really don't appeal to me. Mel Stenning was beginning to look like the sort of person with whom I can never empathise, but that soon changed. Apart from the fact that I couldn't imagine having a relationship with a man when I didn't know his background or even where he lived, what happened developed a logical inevitability. Each character emerged in the same way, from the troubled Simon through to his harsh, unloving mother whose heart strings were unexpectedly tugged by her first sight of her baby grandson. I warmed to young Poppy - uprooted from all she knew, acting like a baby one minute and a young adult the next.

The setting's good too - the old warehouse, frequently shrouded in mist, with all its nooks and crannies - and flocks of starlings - is perfect. The descriptions of the muddy creeks and rotting boats are evocative and add the appropriate spine-chill factor.

The plot is very good. I was surprised at how quickly the pages were turning, but I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. The pace is perfect. At no point did I feel that it lagged, but nor did I ever think that too much was happening too quickly. Every thread fell perfectly into place with a neat twist at the end, which I must confess I didn't see coming. I particularly liked the fact that the book opened with a police detective investigating a murder in Ramsgate and closed with his thoughts on what had happened. It was cleverly and sympathetically done.

Perhaps the most impressive point about this book is the standard of the writing. It put me in mind of Ruth Rendell's Wexford novels, where the writing is clear and not a word is wasted. Given the nature of the novel, there are some scenes of violence, but they're not overly gory and the sexual content is similarly restrained.

Just be very careful the next time that you play hide-and-seek.

Thanks to the publishers, Penguin, for sending this book.

Buy Hidden by Katy Gardner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hidden by Katy Gardner at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Hidden by Katy Gardner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Hidden by Katy Gardner at Amazon.com.


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Jodie said:

Hi I just read your review on this book and I totally agree.

I do not read a lot of books but on a recent holiday to Noosa Qld I purchased the book and started reading it on the beach as I soaked up the sun.

Once I started I could not put it down. I loved the characters, the setting, everything about it.

If you are after a book with a wonderful and surprising twist at the end, this is the book for you.

I am now searching the web for more of her books.

A great great read.

Jodie Gabsch Melbourne Vict Australia