CAUTIONS: MAINSTREAM NOVEL; CONTAINS SEXUAL REFERENCES AND STRONG LANGUAGE
I was asked by Amy Bird to review her new novel, Hide and Seek, because she saw my review of Gone Girl, and read that I love psychological suspense. Both of those reasons for approaching me were very appropriate. Hide and Seek is most definitely psychological suspense at its finest—and comparisons with Gone Girl will be inevitable.
Hide and Seek starts more gently than Gone Girl—not with an apparent kidnapping or crime, but with a mystery. Why does thirty-four-year-old Will look so much like the genius pianist Max Reigate? Why does Will’s mother have Reigate’s CD hidden away in her study? Why is Will so drawn to the music? The mystery does arise at an eventful time in Will and wife Ellie’s life. She has recently lost her parents, and they’re about to become parents themselves. Ellie is six months pregnant at the start of the story. Her pregnancy and her loss actually jumpstart the disturbing events of this story. And what it is to be a parent, to be family—to lose family—are recurring themes.
Unfortunately, one of the reasons for this book’s comparison to Gone Girl will be the unlikableness of the characters in both books. I’m beginning to wonder, though, if that’s almost a prerequisite for the kind of twisty, surprising fiction whose suspense is based on the shocking choices characters make—and the depths they’re willing to plumb to get what they need or want. Generally in a novel, really likeable characters may have terrible things happen to them but they don’t surprise you with their actions.
There are many, many surprising and regrettable choices by a whole host of people in this book, and I think they’re made for a variety of reasons. One of them probably doesn’t even realize what he or she is doing. At least one may be emotionally damaged. One or more think they’re being protective. And that’s one of my favorite things about Hide and Seek or any other suspense novel—complex characters, who keep me guessing not only as to what they’re going to do, but also as to why they’re so motivated.