Series: The Texas Murder Files #1
Published by Berkley Books on 25th August 2020
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When a woman is found brutally murdered on Austin's lakeside hike-and-bike trail, investigative reporter Bailey Rhoads turns up on the scene demanding access and answers. She tries to pry information out of the lead detective, Jacob Merritt. But this case is unlike any he's ever seen, and nothing adds up.
Bailey has a hunch the victim wasn't who she claimed to be and believes this mugging-turned-murder could have been a targeted hit. When she digs deeper, the trail leads her to a high-tech fortress on the outskirts of Austin where researchers are pushing the boundaries of a cutting-edge technology that could be deadly in the wrong hands.
As a ruthless hit man's mission becomes clear, Bailey and Jacob must embark on a desperate search to locate the next target before the clock ticks down on this lethal game of hide and seek.
It’s hard not to get excited with every Laura Griffin release, and ‘Hidden’ was one that got my extremely curious as the first book of a new series even if the premise of it doesn’t seem to stray too far from Griffin’s near-legendary ‘Tracers’ books.
I liked that ‘Hidden’ wasn’t quite just a typical police procedural about a reporter and a detective trying to solve a murder mystery; Griffin pulled in larger forces at work and called into question the entire justice system, the security of WITSEC and how technology played a part in tearing holes in what used to be well-established structures and secure channels. So a simple murder mystery it wasn’t, more so because ‘Hidden’ dealt with people who were meant to be kept safe but ended up falling through the cracks.
The suspense was fantastically pacey as always, well-plotted and written with finesse. The romance however, was that I started to question early on, given that Bailey Rhoads and Jacob Merritt seemed to be at odds most of the time—with a relationship was sustained only by the ongoing case and subsisted on evasion and lies by omission.
Griffin made the law enforcement position a more sympathetic one here and by extension, Jacob’s role in pursuing justice. In contrast, it was harder to like Bailey: a pushy, borderline TSTL reporter who insisted on doing investigative work her own way when it was clear she was getting out of her depth, recklessly endangering not only herself but secondary characters who sometimes felt like a means to an end for her. (Then again, reporters aren’t really on my list as the best heroines in romantic fiction.)
But what struck me most however, was the superficiality of Jacob/Bailey’s relationship even by the end of the book: there was always a lack of openness and honesty between them throughout and I couldn’t imagine them building anything emotionally solid given their conflicting professions, much less Griffin’s HEA/HFN that ended the book abruptly.
‘Hidden’ is by and large, a pretty good Griffin offering, but not the best, I think—it’s still a solid entry into a new series, but not quite one that matches the breathlessness and excitement that I’ve come to associate with some of her best works.