Tobias Hill - The Hidden (4 stars)

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Tobias Hill - The Hidden

(Faber)

MYSTERY DRAMA

Uncovering the mystery of Tobias Hill’s new Greek-set novel is as slow and meticulous as the archaeological dig at its centre. Hill revels in detail: historical descriptions of mysterious Sparta, moments from a memory best forgotten, and idiosyncrasies of deceitful characters. Ben Mercer is an Oxford student with a quarter life crisis and a wrecked marriage. His quest to find (or lose) himself, leads to an ancient Spartan graveside and a group of archaeologists who want to hide more than they uncover.

Hill creates a caustic atmosphere through Ben’s unravelling sense of self, and familiar scenarios of the outsider among friends are furnished without cliché. It’s the capacity for surprise and originality which draws the reader’s attention and implores them to dig deeper. Unlike a newly discovered relic, however, the pieces are more satisfying than the whole, and its flawed conclusion partly undermines what is a fascinating journey before it.

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