My thanks to Head of Zeus and Sophie Ransom for an advance copy for review
You might be paranoid, but that doesn’t mean they’re not watching you.
Adam lives a picture-perfect life: happy marriage, two young children, and a flourishing career as a doctor. But Adam also lives with a secret. Hospital CCTV, strangers’ mobile phones, city traffic cameras – he is convinced that they are all watching him, recording his every move. All because of something terrible that happened at a drunken party when he was a medical student.
Only two other people knew what happened that night. Two people he’s long left behind. Until one of them, Clio – Adam’s great unrequited love – turns up on his doorstep, and reignites a sinister pact twenty-four years in the making…
I’ve really enjoyed J.S. Monroe’s previous books and so I turned to this one with some excitement and anticipation. I wasn’t disappointed. Monroe has a strong flair for capturing a distinctive crime that you won’t easily forget and then building a novel around it that has the reader questioning and second guessing the plot all the way down the line.
No Place to Hide is full of secrets. It is a dual timeline story, with the past informing the present as Monroe cleverly spools out the whole story of what went before to stun us with the rationale for what is happening in the present.
His use of current technology adds a real present danger threat to what is already a clever, twisty and suspenseful psychological thriller.
Adam Pound is a paediatrician. Married to Tania, he has two young children and his life feels solid and secure; his happiness complete. But there’s a shadow in his past and though he has done a lot to bury that shadow it has never quite disappeared.
He has a visceral fear of being filmed and is markedly uncomfortable when a CCTV camera appears at the bottom of his street.
Things escalate in Adam’s life when a lost love appears suddenly. Clio was at University with Adam and they acted together in a student production of Faustus. Adam thought he and Clio could have meant something to each other, but Clio was in tow with another guy named Louis. Louis was a keen filmmaker and despite being warned that he was not a good guy, Adam consented to being filmed for a series Louis was making around the theme of ‘A Day in the Life of…’
What happened and how it came about is threaded through the book and none of it makes a complete story until we get right to the end. But the theme of a Faustian pact and Mephistophilian behaviour leave us wondering whether Adam’s Faustus will end up more like Marlowe’s Faust than Goethe’s.
As Clio suddenly re-enters his life over 20 years later, so Adam’s life takes a decidedly darker tone. He starts to worry for the safety and security of his family and soon his life is entering a downward spiral from which it seems there is no escape. His work and his family seem to be under threat and he is growing increasingly paranoid, constantly feeling that he is under surveillance.
Adam doesn’t know who he can trust. Tania, sensing that he is holding back, has taken the children way and his sense of paranoia is growing exponentially. Monroe brings a real sense of darkness and claustrophobia to events and leaves the reader wondering if Adam is a reliable narrator, or if that strong sense of building dread is going to result in something truly catastrophic. There are some beautifully dramatic settings in this novel, including a beautifully played out scene at the open air Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, Cornwall.
As matters come to a head, Adam is in a battle for both his life and his soul without knowing who, if anyone, he can trust.
Verdict: No Place to Hide is an atmospheric and intelligent novel with a tangible sense of dread as this twisted and shocking book brings everything to a head. Nicely plotted and very twisty, Monroe weaves in the dangers of new technology together with the open sewer that is the dark web, to bring us a truly shocking, nightmarish novel that shows how easy it is to destroy lives at the press of a button. No Place to Hide starts out slowly and gains pace, building to a twisted crescendo that leaves the reader shocked and breathless.
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J.S.Monroe is the pseudonym of the British author Jon Stock. Writing as J.S.Monroe, Jon is the author of five psychological thrillers: Find Me, Forget My Name, The Other You, The Man on Hackpen Hill and, out in April 2023, No Place To Hide. Writing as Jon Stock, he is also the author of six spy novels, including Dead Spy Running, which was optioned by Warner Bros. He lives in Wiltshire with his wife, fine art photographer Hilary Stock, and is currently the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford, as well as on the committee of the Marlborough LitFest.
Photo: c. Hilary Stock