The Hidden by Tobias Hill

The Hidden The Hidden by Tobias Hill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
At first I approached Tobias Hill’s The Hidden as a literary piece of fiction, as I was mindful of the fact that he is a poet. So, you can expect him to write like one, meaning some of his sentences are rich in images, just the right formula of ‘Don’t tell, show’.

And show, he does, opening up a historical vista to ancient Sparta. Ben Mercer is an expert on this, and he’s supposed to be working on his thesis. But he never finishes it, and now is having problems with his marriage. He runs away from all this and heads off to Greece. There, he can only get work in a restaurant. When he met someone he knew from his Oxford days, Eberhard, he manages to wrangle a digging job in an archaeological site, and lucky for him, the dig is for ancient Spartan relics.

However Ben never counts on the mess he is going to get into with a small group of fellow diggers. He falls for one of them though, Natsuko. At first the group doesn’t take to him, but that changes after he joins them in a hunt for a jackal. That night he proves his mettle by killing one.

The book is interspersed with Ben’s accounts, possibly his thesis in progress, of ancient Spartan life, all very informative. They pace the book’s story line, so that in the wake of reading one account, you get thrown into the quick of the story.

Slowly Ben learns what has been going on behind the façade of the dig. There is something underhanded going on. Ben finds out what when Eberhard brings him to a place and shows him where he has kept someone, a Greek, a prisoner. Ben gets his first whiff of modern terrorism.

Thereafter, the pace quickens even more, and by the end of the book you see Ben bloodied. He wants to get away from all this with Natsuko. She agrees to follow him but asks Ben to do her a favour first. The ending here is rather full of shocking images, something with which by now you’d know that Hill has been doing very well.

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