Tuesday 16 May 2023

Hide and Seek - Ken Lussey


Fifth book in the Bob Sutherland series by Scottish based author, Ken Lussey, out 26th May from Arachnid Press.

It is April 1943. Set in and around Stirling Castle, Bob and his bride-to-be Monique Dubois are attending a secret meeting at the castle to discuss details of national security.

Meanwhile, medical student Helen Erickson is followed from London to her aunt's farm in Perthshire, why is she being followed? Is it about the work her mother is taking part in at Bletchley Park?

An old adversary is murdered mysteriously whilst the secret meeting is taking place, Bob and the MI11 team are called in to investigate when everyone has a motive to the victim.

Lussey has in the past six years created this quite wonderful world of World War Two espionage and mystery surrounding this lone central character of Bob Sutherland and yet in each book through the four previous (Eyes Turned Skywards, The Danger of Life, Bloody Orkney and The Stockholm Syndrome) there has been perpetual growth of Bob as an officer and a gentleman, he and Dubois have grown closer together from flirting to close to being married and in the last book Bob killed a man with his gun breaking his virginity.

What is so good about this book in comparison to others previously, is that there is a genuine sense of not coming next. While others have followed traditional narrative paths, for instance in the Stockholm Syndrome the daring pair are in the Swedish capital meaning the action is contained within that city. Here we start in Stirling Castle, yet there was a short prelude where German crew seek asylum and land in Scotland. We then go to Stirling Castle and after the murder, Monique is on the trail of Helen while Bob must investigate the murder himself. 

The separation of the pair for narrative reasons is cleverly done because again it helps to let the pair grow, but Monique's chase of Helen across the Scottish Highlands and train tracks means it is her story we are more engrossed upon. The scene where Helen and Anthony discover the carnage at the aunt's farm was to this reader reminiscent of the opening to No Country for Old Men told with such assuredness that comes from a writer confident in the characters he has created.

While that is daring and driven, Bob's castle death is closer to an Agatha Christie novel and those famous drawing room murders where everybody is a suspect.

Drawing from a wealth of influences and his own Royal Air Force career, Lussey has again written an entertaining page-turning novel that delivers in spades of enjoyment and tension.

Hide and Seek is out in Paperback from Arachnid Press on 26th May 

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