Starting over. Who among us has not at one time yearned for it – if only fleetingly? And to start over on a small, scenic island in a house by the sea. Idyllic.
The protagonist of “Hidden” has done just that. At first the reader has no idea why she has come here. What is she running from? Why has she changed her name? Nicole Jones has been living on Block Island for fifteen years. Years when the confines of the island have comforted her. A woman with no past. Now with new friends – and a new life as an artist and bike tour guide.
Her contentment is shattered with the arrival of someone from her past. Someone she used to love, someone she lusts after, someone she now fears… Her past is brought to light along with her guilt and her former addiction. Yes addiction. Not to a substance, but to the feeling of power and elation that comes with hacking. She was once one of the best computer hackers around. She has been out of action now for fifteen years, but he is back and he wants her to do it again… She doesn’t want to as she knows if she does her new life will dissolve away as if it never existed. Yet, the lure of getting her hands back on a keyboard is as strong to her as cocaine is to an addict. For fifteen years she has lived without a computer. She has been afraid that if she had one, it would be only too easy to revert to her old ways. Over the years she has literally dreamed of source codes, firewalls and passwords.
One day while painting on a beach below Mohegan Bluffs, her house is broken into and everything in it destroyed. Books with pages torn out, foodstuffs scattered on the floor, clothes shredded, furniture smashed. Her bike – her means of livelihood – stolen.
It is at this point that Nicole realizes that her safe haven on the island is gone. The fast-paced narrative speeds up even more as she goes ‘on the run’. It seems her past – and the FBI – are catching up to her…
Even though the reader knows that Nicole is a criminal, you just can’t help but like her – and feel sorry for her. All she wants now is a ‘normal’ life, living on an island, painting, riding her bike. Contentment. She knows that if she leaves Block Island she will dearly miss the friends she made there… especially Steve.
A contemporary, atmospheric thriller with an engaging protagonist, “Hidden” is a more than promising start to what I hope will be a long series. An engrossing page-turner that I heartily recommend.
Karen E. Olson has worked in newsrooms which lent itself nicely to writing a mystery series about a police reporter. After being out of the newsroom for a while, she decided to disregard all that “write what you know” stuff. She wrote four books in a series about a tattoo artist who solves crimes in Las Vegas. Her new series, starting with HIDDEN, is about a woman computer hacker on the run. “Hidden” was originally written as a stand-alone novel. So glad that the decision was made to turn it into a series debut. To be followed by the novels “Shadowed” and “Betrayed“.