The Hidden Hours
Simon & Schuster Australia
Keeping her secret may save her family.
But telling it may save her life.
Arabella Lane, senior executive at a children’s publisher, is found dead in the Thames on a frosty winter’s morning after the office Christmas party. No one is sure whether she jumped or was pushed. The one person who may know the truth is the newest employee at Parker & Lane – the office temp, Eleanor.
Eleanor has travelled to London to escape the repercussions of her traumatic childhood in outback Australia, but now tragedy seems to follow her wherever she goes. To her horror, she has no memory of the crucial hours leading up to Arabella’s death – memory that will either incriminate or absolve her.
As Eleanor desperately tries to remember her missing hours and uncover the events of that fateful night, her own extended family is dragged further into the dark, terrifying terrain of blame, suspicion and guilt.
Caught in a crossfire of accusations, Eleanor fears she can’t even trust herself, let alone the people around her. And soon, she’ll find herself in a race against time to find out just what happened that night – and discover just how deadly some secrets can be.
It took me a little time to warm to the protagonist – the death of Arabella Lane in the UK presents a story line that is not particularly warm or sympathetic; Arabella’s character is manipulative and Eleanor appears stunted by fear, is lonely, low in confidence and has a mysterious past that we want to unravel. The second narrative, of Eleanor’s childhood, reaches out to your heartstrings, you can feel the loneliness, the frisson of fear and anticipation of the revealing of unspeakable events causing static as you turn the pages. In the telling of the two histories Eleanor becomes whole; empathetic and intriguing.
For this is a story of intrigue – so much is not what it seems. Sara Foster cleverly leads us on tour of discovery complete with dead ends, false starts, false leads and so much anticipation. Several times I thought I knew where/how this mystery would resolve…and I was wrong each time. This is very cleverly plotted and paced mystery. Trust no one.
Read right to the very end, read the afterword and learn a little about Sara Foster, about loneliness and despair…and books. “My favourite writers could read my mind before I could find my voice. They could answer my questions without me having to utter them. They pulled me through then, and they still do now. I believe there is at least one book out there that will do this for everyone. Probably many. If you ever need them, I urge you to search them out and bring yourself back to the world. Seek out your books, not the ones you are told to read. Find your truth. Do your soul work. And while you do it, keep faith in a brighter day tomorrow.” (Sara Foster, Afterword)
A great read. Thank you Sara Foster.