The Hidden by Melanie Golding

In late September, I heading to Barnes and Noble and purchased two novels. This was a spontaneous decision, because as I went in to kill time and had no intentions of buying anything. But why in there, I thought, Halloween is coming up; why not buy a horror book to celebrate? After browsing the horror novels, I selected No One Gets Out Alive. Right after that, I thought, I’ll also buy a crime novel to read! (What I’m describing is the cautionary tale of why I shouldn’t kill time in bookstore

s.) I went to the crime section and grabbed a novel to read. I didn’t care what it was. I looked at the title, The Hidden, but only to see that I didn’t own it. When paying for the books, the cashier said of The Hidden, “Oh, I love that book.” 

So I made a good choice!

I will the review No One Gets Out Alive in a couple days, but right now, I’m focused on The Hidden by Melanie Golding.

When a two-year-old girl, Leonie, is abandoned in a seaside resort, the local police and a social worker become involved. Before the case becomes to develop, a woman claiming to the girl’s mother, Constance, shows up and claims the child. The child, she says, got away from her in a period of momentary inattentiveness. Over the police objections, the social worker believes the woman and turns the girl to her. In neighboring Sheffield, Detective Sergeant Joanna Harper is investigating a man found assaulted and drugged his bathtub. These cases are linked, she learns, and so is the case involving her missing sister.

Leonie presses her palm to the outside of the shop window. The glass is cold; the fat little star of her hand leaves an imprint in the condensation when she pulls it away. She laughs and staps her hand back on the window, stamping another and another, a bit like when she does potato printing at the kitchen table, the potatoes soon left aside in favor of dipping her hands atraight in the paints. She concentrates of tracing the outlines of the handprint with a fingertip, before they fade away.

“Mamma,” she says. “Come look. Me do painting.”

Behind her, a handbag stands abandoned on the pavement.

Melanie Golding follows the chain of events before, during, and after these events to answer the mysteries inherent in this tale. She intermixed the events, so historical events that are happening with those that are happening Now. Who is Constance, and what happened to her? Who is Gregor Franks, the man found assaulted, and what does he have to do it the events in the story? Who is Leonie, the abandoned girl? And most significant for Joanna Harper, what does her sister Ruby  have to do with these events? How did she become involved? Where is she now?

In answering these questions, Golding takes us on a manhunt through North England and along the canal system in the countryside. That was fun reading about the canals and life on the narrowboats, built for traveling in them. I Googled several places and followed the course their travels. I loved novels that inspired to learn new things and visit unheard of places. The manhunt ended on an island off the Scottish coast, Outer Hebrides, with a dramatic climax. 

Family secrets play a big role in The Hidden. Joanna has her secret, and that secret relates to the cases, at least why it means so much to find Ruby. And Gregor and Constance have their secret, a deadly secret, which is why everything happen—the assault and the manhunt. 

And Constance has her secret which adds a supernatural twist to this story. I won’t tell you what it is, because one of the joys reading this book is learning about this legend. It’s funny that in The Hidden I bought a crime thriller with a supernatural turn, and in No One Gets Out Alive, I purchased a horror novel with a crime thriller bent, and it makes me wonder is hybrid literature, the bending of genres, the future of storytelling. I hope so because I like it. 

One great smash and the door was swinging on its hinges. The scene inside was a mess of red and white, blood and tiles, a bath brimful of bloody water surrounding the pale skin of the man’s body. Atkinson coughed, to cover a gasp probably. The body itself was unmarked, perfectly still and white, hands and feet bluish and mottled, face peaceful, eyes closed. Harper thought of dumplings in beetroot soup, and her stomach rumbled. She’d skipped lunch, saving herself for dinner tonight. Now it looked like she wouldn’t be getting any.

Melanie Golding is a relatively a new author. She is the writer of Little Darlings and The Sight, along with The Hidden, but I am sure she’ll write several goods in the future. 

The Hidden, published in 2023, is a more recent novel than I usually read, but I am glad that made an exception for it. It’s a tense read, a page turner, loaded with surprises, twists, and turns. 

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