Book review: The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster

Thursday, March 30, 2017 Permalink

Last year I read Sara Foster’s All That Is Lost Between Us and interviewed the West Australian-based author about some of the novel’s themes.

Interestingly her new release, The Hidden Hours is quite a different kind of book. In reality it’s probably one which better reflects my reading bread and butter so I devoured it in a sitting.

Book review: The Hidden Hours by Sara FosterThe Hidden Hours
by Sara Foster
Published by Simon & Schuster AU
on April 1st 2017
Source: Simon & Schuster
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 9781925184815
Pages: 384

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.

This novel unfolds from Eleanor’s point of view and across two timeframes. There’s the now… in which her colleague is killed and then there are a series of flashbacks to Eleanor’s youth and a period of time in which her father lost his job and uprooted the family to build a new house in rural Australia.

Foster cleverly ekes out Eleanor’s history so we understand why she became traumatised by the events of her childhood and how it impacts on her life a decade later, in the guise of hyper-sensitivity.

In the present Eleanor’s recently arrived in London from Australia. She’s staying with an uncle she’s never met and though she adores his two girls, his wife is a Devil Wears Prada-type CEO of a children’s publishing company, terrifying everyone who crosses her path. Including Eleanor.

Her aunt Susan does, however get Eleanor a temporary job at the publishing house where the 21 year old is trying to make friends when she overdoes it at the work Christmas party, drinking heavily with Arabella, who’s later found dead.

Although Eleanor remembers nothing of the night before she discovers she was one of the last to see Arabella and worries about any potential involvement.

Things get complicated when the investigation impacts on her work situation and her new home life. Before she knows it she’s keeping secrets – her own and others – and unsure of anything and everything, including who to trust.

And Eleanor’s afraid of losing control herself… of unravelling. Again.

I very much enjoyed this page-turner by Sara Foster and couldn’t put it down. I loved Eleanor and her supporting cast were complex characters with a lot of grey and I appreciate authors who don’t feel compelled to offer up clear-cut goodies vs baddies.

Foster was born and raised in England, so knows the territory well and is easily able to place our characters in and around London and its bars and alleys in a way that felt very authentic. This is a riveting read and one I highly recommend.

The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster will be published in Australia by Simon & Schuster and available from 1 April 2017.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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