I blame our lack of daylight saving but I’ve been waking early which was my excuse for starting Jack Heath’s latest release Hideout at 5am in the bath accompanied by diet coke (my caffeine of choice) and brownies (the… ahem, breakfast of champions).
As is my habit, before starting a new book in a series I re-read my review of its predecessor. And in my review of the second in the Timothy Blake series, Hunter, I commented that we were left with a cliff-hanger. Annoyingly I don’t include spoilers in my posts which meant I had to get out of the bath and get my copy of Hunter off the shelf to re-read the ending. (Surely risking my neck on wet slippery tiles.)
However, be reassured that though Hideout picks up where Hunter left off, you don’t have to have read other books in the series. Heath opens Hideout with the final scenes from the book before and I must confess I hadn’t remembered this subplot from the previous novel anyway.
Of course if you’ve read others in the series you do have the luxury of knowing that when our lead character Blake says he’s hungry, he means for human flesh because Heath very adeptly did that big reveal (of Blake’s cannibalistic ways) in the first book in the series, Hangman. And I still remember my shock (three years later) as it’s done spectacularly well.Hideout
by Jack Heath
Series: Timothy Blake #3
Published by Allen & Unwin
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
Timothy Blake has nothing to lose. He's headed to an isolated house in rural Texas with a hammer in his pocket and murder on his mind. His target is Fred, the ringleader of a criminal empire on the dark web. Once Fred is gone, Blake can disappear for good.
But it turns out that Fred isn't alone. Five other psychopaths live in the house. They work together and call themselves the Guards. Torture, extortion and death are their business. Blake manages to convince them that he's one of their online associates. Soon they think he's a monster, like them. They're not wrong.
Blake decides to pick them off one by one. But when a Guard is found with a bullet in his skull, Blake realises that someone else in the house may have the same idea - and he might be their next target.
Meanwhile, who are the desperate people chained up in the building behind the house? One of them will change everything . . .
I loved this book and it’s my favourite in the series. Perhaps it’s because we very much focus on the one crime (well, several in reality).
As the blurb notes, Blake intended to be ‘in and out’ here but finds himself inadvertently undercover and soon discovers that the evil deeds being perpetrated aren’t quite what they seem. Well… they are still evil but the Guards aren’t randomly picking the victims for their snuff films. It’s probably a little too close to home for Blake who only ‘eats’ those who’ve done wrong. Although it has to be said, some of those he finds himself in league with here do like inflicting pain and death a little too much.
Heath goes to some trouble to develop the characters of Blake’s new colleagues. They’re all very different and have their own (ahem) quirks. Though they’ve all been together some time a sense of distrust is introduced and whether this is a result of Blake’s arrival, or because of the death of one of their own, Blake’s able to leverage it for his own plans. Of course thing are complicated by Blake’s lack of preparation for the unexpected undercover work, the fact someone else is exacting revenge and… to his surprise the Guards take it upon themselves to bring Blake a plaything from his own past.
I continue to really like Timothy Blake. He isn’t your typical gun-toting action hero, but he’s scary smart and has his insatiable and—mostly uncontrollable—appetite which makes him capable of the unexpected. And it’s the latter that makes him a threat to those around him.
This book is well-paced and kept me flicking the pages. Heath takes time here to offer up a ‘heap’ of fully-formed characters (sorry, had to keep the ‘h’ alliteration going!). The Guards and their victims all felt very real. There’s a level of focus, detail and nuance on offer that firmly placed me in the midst of this unfolding tale and I was riveted.
Of course Heath ends this with another interesting twist and already I can’t wait for the next in the series.
Hideout by Jack Heath will be published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and available from 1 December 2020.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.
PS. My previous reviews have included a link to answers to the riddles included at the start of each chapter and I’ll add those for this book when available.