Short Take: Wait, who was that guy?
*Note – I received a free advance copy of this book to review.*
Living on an island seems like it should have a lot of perks. I mean, you have 360 degrees of beach, right? Unfortunately, according to Stay Hidden, that’s about the only thing going for island living (at least islands off the coast of Maine), because it sure does seem to be pretty miserable for everyone.
Newly minted Warden Investigator Mike Bowditch is on his first case. A woman has been shot to death outside her rented cabin on a small remote Maine island, and although it appears to be a simple hunting accident (excuse me, INCIDENT, this is Very Important and repeated many times), things quickly take a turn for the complicated.
First off, when Mike takes the call, he gets the impression that someone has already confessed to the shooting, but of course that isn’t the case. Secondly, although the corpse is identified as super-famous journalist Ariel Evans, she turns up the next day, alive and well and ready to dig into another juicy story.
It’s a very intriguing setup, but it just doesn’t work.
I can’t exactly say that Stay Hidden was bad, but there were just so many things that could have made it better. For example, all of the descriptions of the book online state that Ariel is not the woman who was murdered, and to me, that would have much for a much better surprise-reveal.
There’s also far too much of a lecturing tone to many passages. I’m sure that Mr. Doiron knows a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff, but long sections on minutiae of forensics, or what happens when deer are overpopulated, or meteorological trivia and so on just slow the pace. Throw in adding a new character or five every couple of pages, and my brain just wanted to quit.
Which brings me to my biggest problem with this one – the massive cast of characters. The book takes place on an island with a population of eighty-nine, and I swear, over the course of a slim 300 pages, we are introduced to every one of them, and also given their relationships to everyone else on the island, which is especially fun when it’s a prominent family whose names all sound alike. I got tired of having to stop and try to remember or flip back to where I first encountered that character, to the point that I gave up and just trusted that whatever they were doing/saying in any given scene would be sufficient to jog my memory eventually.
All in all, Stay Hidden is a serviceable, although somewhat dull and formulaic mystery.
The Nerd’s Rating: TWO HAPPY NEURONS (and a nice venison steak. Because I live in an area where deer do a lot of damage, and screw those mangy jerks.)