Every so often the crime fiction canon welcomes a new character who is instantly iconic. There is no easy formula for making this happen; otherwise it would not be nearly as rare an occurrence as it is. In theory, it is likely some elusive combination of character traits, the assured writing of the author and the correct timing, yet there will always be some element of luck and magic that has to play a part. Whatever the correct amalgamation is, Jason Pinter nailed it when bringing Rachel Marin to life in his new series debut, Hide Away. If you combined the detailed-oriented mind of Holmes with the social awareness of V. I. Warshawski and then throw in a heaping tablespoon of Jack Reacher’s vigilantism, you would be on the road to understanding Rachel Marin. But those admirable traits are just the foundation for Rachel – she is also skeptical, empathetic, and one of the best parents you will find in the crime fiction arena. All of this is really just to say that Rachel Marin is a character readers will never forget – they will cheer her on during Hide Away and wait patiently for her next adventure.
Readers enter Hide Away just as Rachel Marin is experiencing the most horrific event in her life. That trauma sends her off to start a new life with her two children in Ashby, Illinois – a more secluded and cheaper enclave outside of Chicago. For seven years the status quo has kept the Marin Family going, until the moment Rachel hears news that the former mayor – a woman Rachel feels a connection to – is dead. As the police rule the death a suicide, Rachel’s intellect knows better – Constance Wright was murdered.
Unable to stand on the sidelines, Rachel inserts herself into the investigation, much to the chagrin of the lead detectives, John Serrano and Leslie Tally. Jason Pinter certainly did not rely on stereotypes when crafting this partnership. Serrano and Tally are both fully-formed characters that readers are going to respond to. Watching how Rachel navigates her way around them is just as fascinating as bearing witness to her quirky investigative skills. Needless to say, the case becomes much more complex than anyone originally imagined. So much so that it risks exposing the history of the Marin Family and placing Rachel’s precious children at risk.
Sometimes when a thriller slows down to spend domestic time with the lead characters, readers may feel the itch to skip ahead to the next exciting development. That is not the case with Hide Away. Jason Pinter is incredibly skilled at illuminating that unique bond between parent and child and then displaying it on the written page. The scenes between Rachel and her children are some of the strongest in the novel. Their interactions feel real and vulnerable, treasured moments that come and go in a flash. One of the joys of this series will be watching as their relationships change and morph as the children grow.
This review has talked a lot about the character of Rachel Marin. When you have such a strong element, it is impossible not to focus on that. But it would be a disservice to not discuss Jason Pinter’s talent as a word craftsman. Reading this book is a complete joy because you know you are in the hands of a writer in control with the skills to back it up. The plotting here is anything but pedestrian, with a few organic twists that never feel gimmicky. Taken together – the character of Rachel Marin and the effortless unspooling of this tale – make Hide Away a must read for all crime fiction fans.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.