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Hidden in the Dark (Harper Flagg Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Harper Flagg lost her mother to serial killer, the 'Bad Guy' when she was two years old; sixteen years later the Bad Guy's back on a killing spree and close by. Harper's father, a state police detective, has brought up Harper to protect herself - and more. She's a runner, a fighter, tough and smart and stubborn, but underneath it all she's a girl who loves books as much as she does running. Set up this scenario: tough girl with tough dad against a wily, somewhat-brilliant and charming (or deranged?) killer and you've got a good story.
This is a mystery - what's this 'Bad Guy' all about, why does he target young mothers, but leave their babies or young children alone? It's also a thriller - what happens if/when/why Harper and the killer meet? Can she stay safe from him? Is anyone safe from him? And it's also a psychological look into the head of a young woman who refuses to be beaten. I mean, who is Harper, really? Is she really the strong, disciplined girl, dead set on catching or punishing the man who killed her mother? Does she have a weakness, does the killer? And can the Bad Guy outwit her? Can she outwit him?
No spoilers here, just an overview of a quick-paced, complex story set in a small town in MA. I enjoyed, read it in two days, and I do expect a sequel, yes I do...
Hidden in the Dark by Alyson Larrabee is a 320-page thriller. I nominated this book through the Kindle Scout program, it was accepted for publication, and I got a free advanced copy which looks as if it is treated as a verified purchase by Amazon. I think it is important for authors to get reviews on Amazon that are verified purchases. This is just one of the myriad administrative things that have not spurred my curiosity to further investigate. I just like to read books.
I was surprised at the fast pace of the novel and the number of complex stories that the author was able to weave together in only 320 pages. I read it in one session; luckily I chose to start on a Saturday afternoon so the next day's work did not suffer. All principal characters are well developed, even Harper's grandmother who has a minor role but still has well-developed background information.
Gabriel, the Bad Guy, has a character that will alternately appall readers and elicit sympathy. On many popular crime TV dramas as well as in much of the crime literature genre, we hear the abused childhood defense asserted and many times dismissed by the general public as legal trickery. No one is going to dismiss Gabriel's background as other than deeply disturbed. Even Gabriel admits it. That doesn't stop him from applying a high level of cunning and great financial independence to indulge his twisted desires. His rationale? He only did it for the children.
Gabriel's reason for the first round of killing, one involving three deaths, is very complex and shows an almost genius mind that went perverted. I would have never guessed the reason and it is one of the first huge surprises of the novel. The reason for the second round of killing is similar, the complex nature of it is also well presented but there is a question about why an old man was killed. This was a singular occurrence, all other victims were women. The reason is one of the instances of dark humor that I felt was well placed to jerk the reader's attention back to normality for a bit.
Harper, the teenage object of Gabriel's (non-sexual) desire, is well developed as a character. Perhaps a bit over the top but still believable. A high school honor student, elite cross country runner, almost expert marksman due to dad's training, skill in martial arts, are all parts of her resume. But her skill in surviving lengthy captivity impressed me. I can't guess at the amount of research the author had to do to present such an accurate account of survival.
The writing is so good in this novel that even when the writer describes things I really don't care about, like basketball, I felt compelled to read the account. And it captured my attention. For approximately 10 Kindle pages (loc 2017-2063) there is a basketball one-on-one session between Shane (romantic interest) and Harper (bad-ass main protagonist). I don't like descriptions of any type of sport but this was good writing that captured my attention.
This entire novel is written without sex or even outrageous violence. This is an interesting trick when we are reading about murder, kidnapping, and an older male with an unhealthy fixation for at least one teenage girl.
Reserve a chunk of time to read this one. You won't want to stop once you begin reading.
I received a copy of this book through the Kindle Scout program.
The mysterious aspects of this book kept me going for sure. Some mysteries are just too obvious, but this is not one of those. I loved the character development and the detail given to their actions. The less-believable part for me was related to the maturity and attitudes of some of the younger characters.
All things considered, I enjoyed this book because of the characters. Although not all believable or likable, the author did really well at familiarizing the reader with them and making them feel real. Real but unbelievable? Is that even possible? I wouldn't have said so before reading this book, but I don't know how else to describe it.