Few people know better than Janet Manning how a moment of inattention can change things forever. Twenty-five years before the events described in The Hiding Place, her mother asked the then seven-year-old to take her younger brother Justin to the park. All was well until she became distracted, letting the boy slip out of sight. Justin disappeared and was later found dead in a wooded area nearby.
A local man, Dante Rogers, was convicted of Justin’s murder (based largely on circumstantial evidence), and although permanently scarred by the experience, life went on for Janet, who remained in her hometown. But the 25th anniversary of Justin’s disappearance, coupled with Rogers’ parole, causes Janet and one of the original investigating officers on the case to question again exactly what happened that fateful day. It turns out Janet is right to question her memories, as new facts concerning Justin’s disappearance stand everything she thought she knew on its head.
David Bell’s second novel teems with genuine emotion, as he explores the profound effects these revelations have on Janet and her family. His pacing is superb, especially evident in the manner he doles out the book’s revelations, keeping readers guessing, and more importantly, in great suspense, as they wait for the key fact that will tie everything together. It’s to Bell’s great credit that just when the reader thinks the solution is imminent, it is, in fact, only part of a greater, more complex, more intricate tapestry.