Review: The Hiding Place by John Burley

Sunday 2 August 2015
Title: The Hiding Place
Author: John Burley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 30th July 2015
Pages: 355
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Dr Lise Shields works with the most deadly criminals in America. At Menaker psychiatric hospital all are guilty and no one ever leaves. Then she meets Jason Edwards.

Jason is an anomaly. No transfer order, no patient history, no paperwork at all. Is he really guilty of the horrific crimes he’s been sentenced for?

Caught up in a web of unanswered questions and hastily concealed injustices, the spotlight begins to shine on Lise. She’s being watched, and the doors of Menaker psychiatric hospital are closing in.

In Lise’s quest to discover the truth, is there anywhere left to hide?

The Hiding Place opens with a mysterious enough introduction that made me want to read on, but then it all became a little bit flat after that. Dr. Lise Shields works with some of the most deadliest criminals in America, at Menaker psychiatric hospital where all are guilty and nobody ever leaves. Enter: Jason Edwards. Jason is an anomaly. He has no transfer order, no patient history, no paperwork at all. It is up to Lise to unravel this man's history, to see whether he is in fact guilty of the crimes he has been sentenced for.

A couple of issues in the beginning stemmed from the unrealistic portrayal of a psychiatric institute and the way in which patients were treated but then John Burley admits to taking certain liberties for the purposes of the story and given how things progress later, you can see why. Also I didn't like the way Lise almost fell over herself when she first met Jason because of how 'beautiful' he was, feeling her breath 'catch a little'. It was quite unprofessional and kind of makes a mockery of female psychiatrists. Without giving anything away though the scene is being set for what comes later in the story, when everything makes a little bit more sense.

In the beginning I expected more, and found the story to be lacking the intensity that I would expect from a psychiatrist meeting a person such as Jason Edwards but it soon becomes clear there's more to Jason than we first though, a lot more. The Hiding Place is a novel that rewards perseverance as the story very quickly becomes the tense and dangerous thriller I was promised when I picked the book up as secrets are revealed and the past is interwoven with the present quite seamlessly. Some descriptive writing creating some quite vivid scenes, and there's a real atmospheric edge to the story. It is a thought-provoking read in places as Lise finds herself caught up in a conspiracy and as the reader starts to learn more about Lise's history, we see ourselves heading towards a brilliant finale.

The Hiding Place is the first novel from John Burley that I have read but I would definitely be interested in reading No Mercy in the future.

As part of the blog tour I have an extract to share, and make sure to check out the other stops on the tour:

Extract 3

You’ve got a visitor,” Marjorie said, smiling over at me from the nurses’ station. I glanced toward the intake room. Through the rectangular glass pane in the door I could see Paul, one of the orderlies, ushering in a new patient. A visitor, I thought. One of Marjorie’s euphemisms.

“Is this going to be one of mine?” I asked, checking the roster board. I hadn’t been advised of any new admissions. 

Marjorie nodded. “I think you should see this one.”

“Did he come with any paperwork?” “Not that I know of.” Marjorie’s eyes were back on the chart in front of her, her attention elsewhere.

I sighed. The protocol was that we were to be advised ahead of time regarding any new transfers to the facility, and that those transfers should arrive with the appropriate paperwork, including a patient history and medical clearance assessment. Patients weren’t supposed to just show up unannounced, and it irritated me when that happened. Still, one had to keep in mind that we were dealing with a state bureaucracy here. Nothing really surprised me anymore. I decided not to be a hardnose and to let the administrative screwup ride for the moment, although I certainly intended to bring it up with Dr. Wagner later.

Paul had stepped through the door and closed it gently behind him. He motioned me over, and I walked across the room to join him.

“What have we got, Paul?” 

“Young man to see you,” he said, and we both peered through the glass at the patient seated in the room beyond. 

“What’s his story?” I wanted to know, but Paul shook his head. 

“You’ll have to ask him.” Apparently, Paul had no more information than Marjorie did. I pushed through the door. The patient looked up as I entered, smiled tentatively at me. His handsome appearance was the first thing that struck me about him: the eyes pale blue, the face lean but not gaunt. He had the body of a dancer, slight and lithe, and there was a certain gracefulness to his movements that seemed out of place within these walls. A lock of dark black hair fell casually across his face like a shadow.

He was, in fact, beautiful in a way that men rarely are, and I felt my breath catch a little as I sat down across from him. I gauged him to be about thirty, although he could’ve been five years in either direction. Mental illness has a way of altering the normal tempo of aging. I’ve seen twenty- two- year- olds who look forty, and sixty- year- olds who appear as if they’re still trapped in adolescence. Medications have something to do with it, of course, although I think there’s more to it than that. In many cases, time simply does not move on for these people, like a skipping record playing the same stanza over and over again. Each year is the same year, and before you know it six decades have gone by. 

“I’m Dr. Shields,” I said, smiling warmly, my body bent slightly toward him in what I hoped would be perceived as an empathic posture.

“Hello.” He returned my smile, although it seemed that even my opening introduction pained him in some way.

“What’s your name?” I asked, and again there was that nearly imperceptible flinch in his expression.

“Jason . . . Jason Edwards.”

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