"A library doesn't need windows. A library is a window." – Stewart Brand

Dec 13, 2010

Read Something! _The Hidden_ (Bill Pronzini)

The Hidden
210 pp.
Suspense?/General Fiction


Jay Macklin and his wife, Shelby, are off on a Christmas getaway to a remote cabin on the northern California coast. Jay hopes for a last few days of happiness before he must reveal a secret that might mean the end of their already rocky marriage.

But the couple gets far more than they bargained for when they find themselves trapped by violent storms, their only neighbors a set of two couples whose relationships are ugly on the verge of becoming violent -- and in the heart of a stretch of coastline haunted by a serial killer.

Appeal characteristics
  • ???: Basically no way to identify the killer before the very end of the book, but some red herrings that keep you guessing
  • Characterization: All characters (except those immediately dispatched by the killer as soon as they are encountered) play at least a minimally important role; there aren't a lot of extraneous people walking around
  • Plot vs. characterization: Heavy focus on characters for an ostensible suspense novel; much of the middle of the book is about Jay and Shelby's relationship, Jay's psychological state, etc.
  • Plot: Characters have major problems that are often surmounted with relatively little effort when the plot requires them to be resolved
  • Pacing: Fast-paced beginning with lots of mysteries, revelations, and suspense; a lull in the middle; an action-packed end where all of the surviving major characters are placed in mortal peril at least once
  • Pacing: All plot threads are wrapped up very quickly at the end
  • Pacing: Short chapters
  • Frame: Atmospheric in tone, with a general mood/feeling/atmosphere built up through careful use of detail and allusion
  • Frame: Third person limited point of view, alternating between Jay and Shelby's perspectives with an occasional chapter from the killer's point of view

Other notes
  • This book is not suspenseful in the gripping, heart pounding way I would expect from something marketed as "a novel of suspense." Perhaps it is literary suspense, but honestly I don't really find it suspenseful at all (which is not to say that it was not engaging or did not keep me interested).
  • My Noting: Books entry for this book: http://notingbooks.com/users/hbackman/readings/6057-The-Hidden-A-Novel-of
  • ???

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