Thursday, 22 November 2018
JENNY MORTON POTTS - HIDING (2018)
Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.
This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?
(Jenny Morton Potts takes to the psychological thriller stage on an international canvass, and with a unique, bold voice.)
Another very good read with two very different but interesting slices of life from either side of the Atlantic, before an inevitable collision between our main characters. A collision planned by one, unexpected by the other.
Rebecca Brown is the youngest sibling of three and is being raised by her grandparents in a large house in a remote area of the Scottish Highlands. The Brown's parents were killed in a car crash and her father's parents are left to pick up the pieces. Rebecca's childhood is difficult. Only her Grandfather Ralph offers her attention at home; her grandmother Primmy - distant and resentful of the children's presence in their life, but seemingly more tolerant of and benevolent towards Rebecca's older siblings. As far as finances go, the older children have private educations, but the money doesn't stretch to offer the same facility to the youngest Brown. She has one friend at school.
In her isolation she craves details of her parent's lives and has an understandable curiosity about what happened to them. The subject is the elephant in the room, casting a dark shadow over the family, but never brought into daylight, never discussed anecdotally, no shared memories, no fond reminiscences and shut down as soon as Rebecca broaches the subject. Fragments of memory - real, imagined, exaggerated are all she has.
In the US, we have another individual with a troubled childhood. Keller Baye's father is on death row after his involvement in a bank robbery went wrong and some innocents were killed. After his dad's incarceration, Keller is sent to live with an aunt, who has even less interest in raising her nephew than Primmy has in her own grandchildren. Aunt Joya sure does love the money she gets for "looking after" Keller though.
Keller is not a nice person, though it isn't hard to feel sorry for him, especially at his treatment at the hands of his aunt. He resorts to stealing tins of food regularly to supplement the rations on offer at Joya's. This treatment eventually culminates in the loss of three toes to frostbite after being shut out of the house in freezing temperatures. Further humiliations follow in his school life. A violent incident with a tramp which results in death, reveals Keller's capacity for violence, as well as a strong stomach for it. His father's execution is another sorry chapter in Keller's life.
I really liked the way the author sucked me into the two lives of our main characters, which unfold over a number of years. Gradually the connection between the two is revealed, little snippets here and there, a bit like peeling layers on an onion.
Eventually, Keller sets the wheels in motion for his long term plan of revenge for his father. Rebecca is in his sights. Before we're done she will know plenty about her family history.
Dual settings, with alternating narratives regarding our two troubled families, plenty of action and drama, some scenes of strong violence, interesting characters. I quite liked the two main protagonists, even though Keller has darkness in his heart. A better Keller could have existed, if chance and the choices of others had played out differently.
Tense, enjoyable, an easy writing style which had me hooked, with a decent pay-off at the end.
4 from 5
Jenny Morton Potts has several other novels to her name - Piano from a 4th Storey Window, Romy and Raphael, and Just.
Read in November, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 325
Source - review copy from author
Format - kindle