Book Review: THE HIDING PLACE by C.J. Tudor

The Hiding Place, by British author C.J. Tudor, is, undoubtedly, one of the best books that Mystery in Minutes will read in 2019! I feel quite confident about this, and it’s only the beginning of the year! Ms. Tudor’s sophomore novel is beautifully constructed, with a wonderful sense of place, and a plot that kept me glued to the pages! If you enjoy well-written, crime fiction with a strong dose of horror, this is the book for YOU! I can completely envision this cinematic novel being adapted for the screen!

The central character of The Hiding Place is Joe Thorne. Complex, initially mysterious, middle aged Joe leaves Manchester, and returns to his small, hometown of Arnhill, historically a coal mining village, and to the secrets, lies, and “ghosts” of his past that still torment him, and keep him tossing and turning at night. Joe is offered a teaching position at the high school where he, formerly, was a student. He proceeds to rent a cottage that is infamous within this economically depressed and insular town for being the sight of two, horrific, and not fully understood, deaths. The settings of Joe’s perpetually damp, cold, and possibly haunted cottage, as well as the coal mine, long ago abandoned, with its dark, narrow, and low tunnels and shafts, and its ventilation ducts that open from above the mine to reveal long distances of “nothingness”, serve, in “the present”, as well as in flashbacks, to create nail-bitingly creepy, claustrophobic, and very suspenseful scenes! In The Hiding Place, Ms. Tudor revisits themes that played a large role in her debut novel, The Chalk Man: primarily, the coming of age, and the cruelty that children are capable of inflicting upon one another. In between these deeply felt scenes, Ms. Tudor intersperses dark humor, and turns of phrase both witty and profound, as well as allusions to the works of other writers, and at least one Easter egg reference to her own debut! I lost count, while reading The Hiding Place, of how many times I highlighted thought-provoking passages.

There are aspects of the plot that walk a very fine line between realism and the otherworldly, and this may leave some readers with unanswered questions. I do wonder if the author wanted these plot points to be open to interpretation. In addition to Ms. Tudor having one Doc Marten firmly planted in the psychological horror universe, with her wonderful villains, as well as other elements of the story, such as Joe Thorne’s “coping mechanisms” (one not oft written about vice, in particular), Ms. Tudor has given The Hiding Place a quite noirish feel. Some readers may ask if the author played completely fairly with them regarding her two, final twists, which are nearly impossible to predict! Others have opined that her style and themes too closely resemble those of Stephen King, one of Ms. Tudor’s favorite writers. For me, those niggles do not prevent me from declaring The Hiding Place a slam dunk that I highly recommend!

In early 2018, I wrote: “The Chalk Man is an enthralling, sometimes emotionally wrenching, yet lovingly told story by a shining new talent in the crime writing world!” I fully anticipate that C.J. Tudor’s second novel, The Hiding Place, will generate much discussion, and be every bit as popular, around the world, as this talented author’s debut! I look forward to reading whatever she comes up with next!


Best for Crime Fiction Readers:

  • Who enjoy reading books with coming-of-age content.

  • Who enjoy reading novels with a strong influence of psychological horror. The Hiding Place definitely contains some violence, as well as some fairly unsettling and slightly gory descriptions, so it should be approached with caution by the faint of heart. (Please note for the future:The Hiding Place would make a terrific Halloween season read!)

  • Who don’t mind, or appreciate, crime fiction with supernatural elements.

  • Who like to read crime fiction and mysteries with stylistic or thematic features of noir.

  • Who enjoy reading about one or more unreliable narrators.

  • Who love crime fiction with chapters that end with mini cliffhangers, or “danglers”, that compel the reader to keep turning the pages!

    Pages: 288 (Hardcover)

Read What Others Are Saying About The Hiding Place:

“Tudor maintains a tone of creeping dread throughout the book, of something lingering always in the background, coyly hiding its face while whispering promises of very bad things to come. In the last quarter, however, she goes for broke with outright horror, giving readers an effective jolt of adrenaline that will carry them all the way to the terrifying conclusion. Readers won’t know what hit them. Tudor came out swinging with The Chalk Man, but this one puts her firmly on the map. Not to be missed.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Tudor has crafted another fantastic horror-tinged thriller (after The Chalk Man, 2018) in the vein of John Connolly and Brendan Duffy.” —Booklist

“Tudor casts a searing light on the long-term damage wrought by grief, guilt, and regret.” —Publishers Weekly

“Some writers have it, and some don’t. C. J. Tudor has it big time—The Hiding Place is terrific in every way.” —Lee Child

“Dark, gothic and utterly compelling, The Hiding Place pulls off a rare combination – an atmosphere of unsettling evil along with richly nuanced characterization.” ­—J.P. Delaney, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Before

“Gripping and dark, The Hiding Place descends like its very own mine shaft, getting creepier the further you go. You’ll race to the finish.” —Roz Nay, internationally bestselling author of Our Little Secret

“Deliciously creepy, impeccably plotted and laced with both wicked humor and genuine shocks, The Hiding Place is the kind of read-under-the-covers thriller you didn’t think people wrote anymore. Lucky for us, C.J. Tudor still does. An absolute corker of a book.” —Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied

Publisher’s Blurb:

The thrilling second novel from the author of The Chalk Man, about a teacher with a hidden agenda who returns to settle scores at a school he once attended, only to uncover a darker secret than he could have imagined.

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang--the betrayal, the suicide, the murder--and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn't have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe's sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town--while avoiding the enemies he's made in the years since--is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn't the day his sister went missing. It was the day she came back. 

MINM Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars

Thank you to Crown Publishing for a free, advanced copy of The Hiding Place, by C.J. Tudor!

This review is the honest opinion of Mystery in Minutes.