There was nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide, so Helen could never let her guard down, never relax.
In Holloway, danger was only a heartbeat away...
Publisher: Michael Joseph (An imprint of Penguin Books.)
Book Links: Goodreads
I anticipated this novel for most of this year. After the sensational Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek, number six in Arlidge's DI Helen Grace series, has never been far from my thoughts. I know better than to hype a book the way I have this one, but I couldn't help it, my mind was blown from the previous entry's cliffhanger, I needed this book stat.
And it's here. And I've just finished it. And I am in utter, stupefied awe.
Mr Arlidge, I electronically salute you (because I'd no doubt look silly physically doing it to my laptop). Hide and Seek is a masterpiece of a gripping crime novel. I can't remember ever having my hype so high only for the novel to come along and exceed it so drastically. By far this is one of the best books I've read all year.
Synopsis (This time round, I'll be using the blurb that comes with my edition of the book.)
Detective Inspector Helen Grace has spent her whole life running.
From the past. From herself.
From everyone who's ever tried to get close to her.
She's spent her whole life hiding.
Behind the badge. Behind her reputation as one of the country's best detectives.
Until - framed for murder - she became one of its most high-profile prisoners.
Now there is nowhere to run.
Nowhere to hide.
Because HMP Holloway is a place of dark days and long nights with dangers at every turn. Despised by the inmates and reviled by the guards, Helen must face her nightmare alone.
And then a carefully mutilated body is found in a locked cell.
Now Helen must find a ruthless serial killer.
Before the killer finds her.
Plot - 5/5 Stars
Hide and Seek picks up not too long after the cliffhanger in Little Boy Blue, with our protagonist, Helen Grace, wrongfully imprisoned at HMP Holloway in London. The plot bounces smoothly around various viewpoints as Helen fights for survival and Charlie, Helen's only outside ally, fights to reveal the truth surrounding her friend's incarceration. I mean, that alone is some seriously juicy stuff, offering exciting dynamics as Helen faces off against criminals she herself put away and officers who revile her for betraying them.
But Arlidge spices it up even more by throwing a serial killer into the mix, one that Helen feels obligated to hunt to protect the people likely to pulverise her.
I just can't describe the emotions that the novel elicits; no words would do justice to this kind of experience. The danger, tension and claustrophobia are spectacular.
Hide and Seek plays with morality, and like his other books, Arlidge once again shows how capable he is at building events and characters that are realistically pieced together from good and bad. He also creates some maddening, but mesmerising, misdirection. His ability to subvert the reader's judgements is uncanny, and prepare yourself for sharp surprises that will shove the detective in you off course.
I had to have guessed the serial killer's identity a hundred times, and I never once got it right.
An explosive end revels in organised chaos as the reader is buffeted with twists, turns and tragedy. But, the kind of satisfaction it delivers cuts right to the core, ensuring Hide and Seek as a story that has no equal.
Pace - 5/5 Stars
The shifting viewpoints can initially terrify you with their ferocity, but they are smooth and succinct, offering a fast-paced journey through an impressive thriller. There is no waste and no jagged edges. Hide and Seek has so much going for it that each and every chapter demands your attention. Action and survival blend together to add those lightning-quick moments that pump adrenaline throughout your body.
Characters - 5/5 Stars
As I've said, Arlidge is a master when it comes to creating morally divided characters, and Hide and Seek showcases this ability to full effect. We follow a wide range of individuals as they set up this intense and emotionally ravaging story. Helen is of course our main gal, and the torment she faces for things she hasn't done is heartbreaking. But when the crap hits the fan, she's up in front trying to save the people likely to kill her. She might come from a dark past and be surrounded by black, but at her core Helen is all light; a stunning heroine.
And let's not forget Charlie, Helen's loyal and vivacious friend. I'm really coming to see the two as a duo, the two leads of the series, because both are tremendous cast members.
But the world is fleshed, and the variety of characters keeps the plot fresh, moving and unputdownable. There are so many avenues of suspense, and no shortage of suspects. The novel is full of carefully created characters that, even if they appear nice, still come with a certain amount of unease. This is heightened thanks to the emotional connection forged between the reader and Helen; her paranoia is your paranoia.
Writing - 5/5 Stars
Armed with the past tense and third-person narrative, Hide and Seek keeps chapters short and concentrated. Arlidge easily sets a scene and can handle details with the utmost efficiency. I said in my review for the previous entry, Little Boy Blue, that it takes some serious skill to create these kinds of stories with so much potency, and I stand by that.
Overall - 5/5 Stars
The next instalment has been announced for 2017: Follow My Leader. I don't know how I'll manage my patience until then.
Hide and Seek has blown my mind...
Previous Instalment: Little Boy Blue
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