Hide, S.J. Morgan
Set in 1983, HIDE is one of those novels that clearly demonstrate how a couple of simple life choices can send somebody spiralling into dark territory very quickly. There's nothing unusual in the setup as Alec Johnston moves into the sort of share house we've all probably lived in at some time. A slightly grotty old house, this time in Swansea, South Wales, which he shares with three other young men - Minto, Stobes and Black.
Minto is an odd character, a menacing bikkie type with a very young girlfriend who is fragile beyond belief. Johnston, with more than a sneaking suspicion that he should just keep his nose well out of it, finds himself drawn to the very vulnerable Sindy, and right into Minto's bad books as a result.
Moving between the interactions of Johnston and his housemates and Johnston's parents, and friends, in Cardiff, things get increasingly weird, tense and threatening in a way that's absolutely mesmerising. In a very bad, slow burn, darker and darker sort of way that had this reader sitting up way too late, with all the lights on. In an elegant twist however, this isn't Sindy being moved from one dangerous and manipulative relationship to another. Johnston is a decent young man, his parents are good people, and there collective willingness to help somebody in trouble is nicely pitched - not cloying or over-played.
Written in a series of short, pointed chapters, HIDE keeps twisting up the tension, creating a creepy, all-consuming, "who is going to be for it now" sort of vibe that keeps the pages turning no matter how uncomfortable it gets. Even the move from darker, small town, up close Wales to the wide-open outback of Australia doesn't help, as it turns out that bright light cast in dark places just makes them easier to see into. The concluding chapters of HIDE were an absolute standout, with the twists and turns revealing an intricately knitted together tale of bravery and determination and the tension never lets up as the most heroes emerge into that light, right up to a tantalising finishing paragraph.
It’s 1983 in Thatcher’s Britain. Alec Johnston has left his comfortable family home in Cardiff and taken a flat with bikers Minto, Stobes and Black. There he meets Sindy, Minto’s strange and vulnerable young girlfriend. When she starts to view Alec as a possible saviour from her abusive relationship, it earns Alec a big target on his back.
Hide takes us on a dark, unsettling journey: one that begins in a small town in Wales and continues through the vast Australian outback. As the threats get closer, Alec fears this is one journey from which he may never return.