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The Hidden [Kindle Edition]

Jo Chumas
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $4.99
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Book Description

2013 Winner — Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award — Mystery & Thriller

A university professor is brutally murdered in Egypt’s Sinai desert in 1940, leaving behind his new bride, the beautiful young Aimee Ibrahim. As Aimee tries to unravel the web of lies and secrets surrounding her husband’s death, she unwittingly becomes a pawn in a revolutionary plot against Egypt’s king. With the discovery of a twenty-year-old diary, the mystery only deepens. As Aimee gets ever closer to the truth, she discovers startling parallels between her own life and that of the mother she never knew.

Unfolding in the city’s brothels, hashish cafes, and jasmine-scented colonial mansions, The Hidden is a gritty, sensual tale of revolution, betrayal, and the lengths we will go to for love—and truth.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This sophisticated, first-rate mystery novel/political thriller takes place in Cairo, Egypt. It alternates points of view and shifts time frames to create an outstanding narrative with nail-biting suspense. Yet, it is much more than a clear-cut thriller. It offers a penetrating account of Egyptian culture, the role of women in society, and the profundity of love. The story begins in 1940. Haran Issawi, chief advisor to King Faruk, discusses with his top security men newly discovered intelligence of an assassination plot against him to be carried out by the Group of the X, a proletarian nationalist organization that seeks to overthrow the Egyptian government. Meanwhile, Aimee Ibrahim, the young and alluring widow of Azi Ibrahim, an academician who was mysteriously murdered, is asked to come to the university where Azi taught to collect his belongings. A parcel wrapped in brown paper and tied with string entices Aimee. She opens it and discovers her mother's diary, written 20 years ago. Aimee never knew her mother, Hezba Sultan, who was born into royalty as the only daughter of Ali Sultan Pasha. Now, with this relic of Hezba's past in Aimee's possession, she speculates about what secrets it may reveal. Aimee also wonders why Azi had Hezba's journal and why it was hidden at his office. Aimee is invited to the launch party of a poetry book written by the university's up-and-coming literary talents where she meets Farouk, who is the editor of the Cairo newspaper, The Liberation, and, unbeknownst to Aimee, one of the notorious "ringleaders" in the Group of X. Even though the encounter irritated Aimee -- she didn't like the way Farouk stared at her -- she couldn't stop thinking about him after their goodbyes. Farouk, too, was enchanted. Their friendship blossoms, yet can they trust one another? Hezba's flawless diary entries are incorporated into the novel, and they welcome readers into the fascinating yet brutal world of Egyptian harem life in the early 20th century. Hezba's writings tell of her nature as a defiant, impatient and desperately unhappy woman who seeks freedom beyond the strictures of the palace and the societal limitations placed on women. Circumcised at age five and married at age 11 to 50-year-old Khalil al-Shezira in a political maneuver arranged by her father, Hezba's joy is her secret love affair with Anton Alexandre, a member of the Rebel Corp which is agitating for revolution against the British occupation of Egypt. Hezba aligns herself with Alexandre's rebel activity, and, as the novel switches back and forth in time, it becomes increasingly intriguing how crucial Hezba's journal is to the unfolding of events in 1940. This is a novel that keeps readers guessing -- presumed allegiances are not always what they seem to be when bombs explode and characters are killed and truths are revealed. This is an excellent, well-written, and forceful work of fiction.

From Booklist

Egyptian-history buffs will love this complex story, set in 1940 Cairo, of love, betrayal, and political machinations. A young professor is murdered, and his wife, Aimee, is determined to find out why. Upon cleaning out her husband’s desk at the university, she finds her mother’s diary. Aimee never knew her mother and can’t understand why her husband had the diary. Aimee’s mother, we learn, as the story moves back and forth between the 1940 murder and 1919, the period covered in the diary, was the daughter of Egyptian royalty, forced into an arranged marriage when she was 11 years old. Meanwhile, in the present, there is a political uprising planned to overthrow King Faruk, and spies are everywhere. Both mother and daughter experience violence and political unrest in their lives, as well as love, and their intertwining stories make fascinating reading. Fans of Elizabeth Peters and Wilbur Smith will find much to enjoy here. This novel won the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in the Mystery/Thriller category.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1249 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1477848193
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (October 22, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,995 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Hidden October 22, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
The Hidden is the first novel I've read by Jo Chumas and it won't be the last. The Hidden is captivating from page one. Before long, the end of the book is near and I'm left wondering what a heck of a ride.

The novel begins 1940 with the murder of Aimee Ibrahim's husband Azi. From the first chapter it is obvious there will be tons of mystery and intrigue surrounding his death. An unsuspecting Aimee goes to the university, where her late husband worked, to retrieve her husbands' belongings and is surprised to find a diary. This is no ordinary diary. It is the diary of her mamman Hezba Iqbal Sultan Hanim al-Shezira. The Hidden turns into two seperate stories that run parallel courses.

Hezba's journal tells of her life during 1919, with her abusive husband and secret love interest, Alexandre, who's anxious to begin Cairo's revolution. Hezba is drawn to him as she wants to be heard as well. She's convinced that once the old ways are done with, her female voice will be heard. Hezba isn't interested in being one of the wives' of a man who treats her as if she is nothing. She wants a free Egypt where women and men are on level playing fields. Free of religion, customs, and restraints. Hezba's story is inspiring and worthy of the equal attention given to it.

Aimee seems to be on the same journey of finding her voice when her husband is killed. Without much family, she's uncertain of what to do next. In the '40s, much hasn't changed. Women are still second class citizens who's only purpose is to keep house and bear children. In an effort to solve the mystery that was her husband, she enlists the help of an older man named Farouk. He's as perplexing as her late husband Azi, but they have an undeniable connection.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating November 6, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This is one of those books that I wish I had a lot more of. It's fascinating. It's escapist. It's exciting. This is the second book I've read from this author and both have been extremely satisfying. It's a cliche, but I really couldn't put it down. I didn't want it to end. This story struck me as so original and full of details that I didn't know I wanted. I don't want to rehash the story here, you can read the blurb above, because the fun of the book is reading what Aimee comes face to face with and how she deals with it. If you're looking for a fantastic thriller/mystery, you've found it.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Larger Story of Human Rights October 31, 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"The Hidden" by Jo Chumas is one of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Winners in the Mystery and Suspense category. Although half of the novel revolves around the convoluted political intrigue surrounding a young professor's death, and how it relates to an old diary in the possession of main character Aimee, the deceased professor's wife, the most interesting aspect of "the Hidden" is not its mystery, but its report of the behind-the-scenes political machinations that make up the modern history of Egypt with regard to its development as a stable/unstable nation.

Chumas' mystery becomes a secondary player to the turmoil in Egypt itself as it struggles to become a country free of foreign influence. With this in mind, the "Suspense" for which this novel won its prize seems unimportant as exemplified by the novel's parallel story--a first person narrative written in journal format by the novel's main heroine, Hezba,the daughter of an influential sultan in the early 20th century.

Headstrong Hezba is strategically married to a man she does not love. Born in a harem with personal servants and unlimited wealth, Hezba knows nothing of the outside world of poverty or the injustice of those not in power, but she does know the limitations of her own existence. As a woman, she lives the life of a pampered slave;her opinion outside of her small circle of influence within the harem is worthless and when not warranted subject to cruel physical punishment. When she meets the handsome Alexandre, brother of her tutor, she falls hopelessly in love and being Hezba, tumultuous and willful, she figures out a way where she can get what she wants.

Within Hezba's narrative, the reader is treated to an inner look at a woman's life in the Egypt of the early half of the twentieth century.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A big mess November 26, 2013
By Ken E
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book comprises the juxtaposition of Aimee's story set in 1940 and her mother Hezba's story given as extracts from her diary written in 1919.

The narrative is all over the place. It jumps between story threads sometimes within the same paragraph. Another annoying thing is that the author thrusts opinions down our throats and doesn't let the reader develop their own views. The ending is no surprise, it is telegraphed all the way through the book. Sex is mostly short and brutal. Even with Hezba's lover Alexandre it is quick but with a little more foreplay than with her husband.

The diary is unconvincing. No young woman in 1919 would write like that. Much of it is written in the present tense whereas diaries are written after the events. Some terms used are not of the period. For example she says that she suffered from depression. The term 'depression' was not in use until the 1930s; the word used in 1919 would have been melancholia. Similarly, the expression 'husband rape' is a much more modern term. There are many more anachronisms in the diary.

The 1940 setting in Cairo is full of implausibilities. A large flashing Coca Cola billboard! Aimee persuaded to act as a dancer/prostitute in a sordid nightclub. She is only prevented from fulfilling the second part of the job description by the fortunate intervention of someone she knew who just happened to be in the audience.

I did not like the book for lots of little reasons that add up to one big mess.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A very unique mystery novel!
I really enjoyed the way Miss Jo Chumas jumped from one era to another flawlessly. Finally at the very end things do come together. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Burl A. Etue
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Held my interest for awhile
Published 22 days ago by Daniel P. Jenkins
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Lots of foreign words, feelings, not much action. Significant cultural differances.
Published 28 days ago by druckmanw
2.0 out of 5 stars Will never read this again
Very slow read and incredibly depressing. After 300+ pages of buildup, the author ended the story in less than 30 pages.
Published 2 months ago by Jennifer H
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent And thrilling book
This unexpected story is very well written and keeps you thrilled until the very end. It also reminds the reader of a very different society which we all hope will never return to... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Betty Willems
4.0 out of 5 stars The Hidden by No Chumas
This book has a very moving story. I would have given it 5 stars, but the author somewhat confused me in the beginning of the story by changing from the past to the present... Read more
Published 5 months ago by shirley black
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent thriller
This novel is an excellent thriller for the reader that will keep you guessing until the last word. It is extremely well written and a fascinating one-day read. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Night Owl Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Real Good
Published 5 months ago by Theodore Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars great
great story
Published 6 months ago by John E Marble Sr
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 6 months ago by lourdes villagomez
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More About the Author

Jo Chumas was born in England in the 1960s. When she was a small child she moved with her family to Brussels, Belgium and went to school there. She spent her childhood exploring Europe and North Africa with her parents when school holidays allowed, living between France, Switzerland and Brussels. Her favourite thing to do was writing in her diary and making up stories about the strange characters she met on her travels. She studied French literature at university and fell hopelessly in love with the image of Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. Her 'Existentialist' phase lasted a long time. On leaving university she decided to travel the world and worked as a waitress, an accountant's assistant (hilarious given that she hates Maths) and a shop assistant before begging an editor friend to give her a job as a journalist. This led to a 22 year career as a journalist, commercial writer and PR account director specialising in international clients. She wrote her first full-length novel when she was pregnant with her second son. In between collecting antiquarian books and first editions, learning new languages (she is rusty-fluent in French), reading everything she can get her hands on and writing novels, she dreams of being able to escape to her imagined mountain retreat and has already built the house of her dreams (inside her mind).

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