Review of The Hidden by Bill Pronzini

The Hidden

The Hidden

A series of seemingly random murders along a fifty-mile stretch of the rugged northern California coast, committed by an unknown dubbed by the media the Coastline Killer. A young couple with marital problems, Shelby and Jay Macklin, who decide to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s at a friend’s remote coastal cottage. Two couples in a neighboring home whose relationships are thick with festering menace. A fierce winter storm that leads to a night of unrelenting terror. (Amazon.ca)

It certainly started off interesting. It had all the right elements of suspense and it got me reading further into it. Then it stops. The plot suddenly focuses mainly on the deteriorating relationship between Jay and Shelby and the killer suddenly disappears from the story. Huh? why? and the suspense was just getting along fine! However! I actually liked the spotlight on the two of them. It did provide character development despite the lack of suspense.

As the story progressed, I found myself losing interest. New characters were introduced so the reader is provided with some potential suspects. I didn’t think much of any of them though. They seemed strange, and little out of place and for a minute I thought perhaps it was going to take a turn for the creepy and give the plot a more sinster feel. Unfortunately, I was wrong and it felt as if the characters were placed there out of convenience without any real thought to them.

Towards the end of the novel I just wanted this to be over with, and when the killer was revealed I wasn’t interested in the story anymore. Honestly, I was wondering more about the outcome of Shelby and Jay’s future instead of the mystery. Their marital situation just seemed much more interesting than the mystery itself. It had a lot of potential in the beginning, yet it fell short of its mark. I nearly didn’t finish the book but as it’s only about 200 pages I decided to get it over with anyway. I don’t think I can recommend this to anyone, as there’s plenty of better suspense novels out there.

I give it a 1 out of 10.

Side Order (SPOILER ALERT): When the killer was revealed to be someone not even on the list of suspects, I just about nearly quit the book. As much as I hate to say this, this has to be the worst book I’ve read of 2011 so far.
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