book reviews

Book Review: The Hidden Hours

the hidden hours canva

The Hidden Hours
: Sara Foster
Published: 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
My Rating: 5/5

The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster is a psychological mystery and an addictive page-turner. The book really should come with a warning:

Be prepared to put your life on hold as you won’t be able to put this book down.

From the minute I picked up the book I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The chapters were short so I got lost in the whole ‘just one more chapter’ thing until before I knew it, life had passed me by. Including the cooking, the cleaning, the writing, the bookwork. I even almost forgot to pick the kids up from school one day! Almost.

The Hidden Hours tells the story of Eleanor who has recently moved from Australia to London to escape her past and start fresh. However, when Arabella Lane, a senior executive at the publishing house she is temping for (and her boss’ wife), is found dead, Eleanor finds herself tangled in a murder investigation. The problem is, there are a few hours she can’t account for the night Arabella was murdered, and Eleanor could be prime suspect.

The book is told in dual timeline – current day, and a period in Eleanor’s youth where her father uprooted the family to build a house in rural Australia. This allows the reader to unravel both the mystery of Arabella’s death, and the mysterious and tragic circumstances that still haunt Eleanor today. Delving into the past is such an effective way to build the character, and in this instance it’s also an intriguing story – at times even more so than the current events.

Dual time-lines are difficult (I know, I’m trying to write one!), but Foster has managed to pull it off. The narrative switches are smooth and both time-lines are filled with conflict and tension that make you want to read on. Foster is able to seamlessly merge the two timelines into one at the perfect point, leading to the dramatic conclusion that will keep you guessing until the end.

The Hidden Hours is an intelligent mystery, which also tackles deeper issues such as loneliness, depression, and the break down of family. It is both gripping and heart-felt. There are no wasted words, and characters are well-developed, and the setting in both timelines effectively strong.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be exploring Foster’s back catalogue. Now, though I have to return to my messy life that fell by the wayside while reading!

The Hidden Hours is out now and can be purchased through all good book stores, and online at Booktopia.