Friday, 15 May 2009

The Hidden by Tobias Hill

DATE PUBLISHED: 2009 DATE READ: May 2009 NOTES: After an unsuccessful marriage and an uncompleted university thesis Ben Mercer travels to Greece. He settles in to working in a restaurant where he is very much the outsider – although he does manage to strike up a sort of friendship with another member of staff. Following a chance meeting with an ex-uni colleague he decides to join an archaeological dig at Sparta. Here he still finds himself very much the outsider but gradually inveigles his way into the group – at the same time rejecting the friendship of some local workers. The Hidden is interspersed with sections describing ancient Sparta and its warriors and as the narrative unfolds it becomes clear that there are direct parallels between the elite group of diggers and the Spartans. Just as the Spartans had little time for outsiders this group of five also feel scant regard for anyone else. But Ben is fascinated by them and is slowly accepted into the group. He ignores the hints that darker forces may be at work and when he realises what exactly is going on it is too late. It is an intriguing book which is beautifully written. The narrative moves slowly and is overshadowed by menace. It is very much a slow burning fuse – but the final part moves swiftly and makes compulsive reading. The morally ambiguous Ben is well portrayed. I would have liked more differentiation of the elite group of five – their characters could have been better defined.
A book to be savoured slowly.

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