📚20📚 The Hiding Place by Helen Phifer

When nine-year-old Charlotte Standish goes missing from her street, it sparks a media frenzy in her small Lake District town. Her distraught parents are desperate to have their little blonde darling back, and Detective Morgan Brookes leads a frantic hunt for the girl. But Charlotte seems to have vanished into thin air.

Chasing up a lead at Charlotte’s school, Morgan is chilled to learn that another girl disappeared from the same street fifteen years ago. But the moment she begins to investigate the link, another local child goes missing. Ten-year-old Macy loves chocolate, her mum and her dog in that order, and Morgan’s heart twists at the thought of anyone harming this precious child.

The missing girls all lived close to each other so Morgan is sure that someone in this tight-knit community must know something. Going door to door, she is closing in on the truth when she gets a call that fills her with guilt; Charlotte’s lifeless body has been found in a local park, with distinctive scratches on her pale arms. Morgan has let one girl down, but she cannot give up on Macy and she’ll tear this town apart to find the final clue in her disappearance. But can Morgan solve this case before any more innocent lives are taken?

So, I had some free time, in between some long and arduous tasks. I’m battling a four day migraine and running on an empty tank. The air pressure has been at a constant low for four days, and it has been particularly difficult to deal with. The weather report keeps promising the arrival of high air pressure but I’ve yet to see it.

I did my 30 minutes of active exercise this morning which made me feel marginally better till the left side of my head started pounding like the beat of an erratic drum. How better to focus and distract the mind than by reading a Kindle book?!

Morgan, Morgan…she’s more of a magnet of trouble than I am as a magnet of being clumsy! This book moved at a slower pace for the characters and also for the plot. The story of missing children should be adrenaline fuelled and fast paced but I felt that it moved at a slower steady pace. I didn’t get the required adrenaline rush I needed. I suppose there was more focus on the characters versus the crime and victims. I got to see the team work in a more cohesive fashion and see relationships between them develop further.

Knowing that Morgan has a reputation for ‘solving crimes’ and ‘causing trouble’, I did expect a little more from her character here. However, with two jam packed stories under her belt, I do recognise the need for a slower paced book to give the character a chance to relax and grow in a more streamline manner.

That the book picks up more or less straight from book two was a good call to make. It not only reminds the reader of what has happened but also allows you to stand alongside the characters in a way that wouldn’t be possible if you were to meet them months after those events in a completely new setting.

I am obviously routing for a Ben/Morgan relationship to develop. While it doesn’t happen here, there are hints to the possibility of something happening in the future and there was the breakthrough of the characters at least admitting that the feelings were there.

It always amuses me in British Crime stories, how drawn to trouble and murder the main protagonists are. Like, what has happened to Morgan in this series wouldn’t happen in real life. I have a friend who is a police officer, and while she does have some outrageous stories, what’s written here is beyond that. But I think that’s part of the charm.

I was so eager to get into this book and yet, I only read a couple of chapters a day for three days in a row. I think my brain was a little confused because while the crimes omit fast paced action and adrenaline, the characters seemed without interest. At 57% of the way through, I can see that things are starting to pick up.

I know it’s essential to keep the reader guessing in the relationship between characters, but I cannot express how much irritation I felt at the arrival of Fin. If I could have successfully thrown my iPad, I would have done so. I’ve never handled it well when an author messes with the characters I have come to love, so this exploration was difficult for me to digest with a clear mind.

Unlike the other books in this series, I knew who the killer was. I made an assumption based on those interviewed after Charlie’s disappearance and it proved correct. It was disappointing in a way because I already knew the secret.

I give this book 4 Stars.

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