Reviewed by Jennifer R.

The Hidden Man by David Ellis opens in 1980 when 2-year-old Audrey Cutler is kidnapped from her bedroom while her mother and 7-year-old brother, Sammy, sleep in their rooms. Audrey is never seen again. A local sexual offender, Griffin Perlini, is arrested but there isn’t enough evidence to convict him.

Twenty-seven years later, Sammy is arrested on charges of murdering Griffin Perlini. He and his childhood best friend, Jason Kolarich, have since lost touch with each other. While Sammy spent his childhood in and out of juvie, Jason became a popular athlete who earned a football scholarship to college.

Now, Jason Kolarich is a bitter attorney, having just recently returned to work after his wife and baby daughter were killed in a car accident. Used to working in a large firm on big cases, Jason has gone to private practice to do small time law. Then one day, a strange man, identifying himself only as “Smith” arrives in his office offering a large amount of money for Jason to defend Sammy against the murder charges. The trial is in four weeks. Jason agrees to defend Sammy and starts to do some investigating on his own to determine how he can win Sammie’s case. Meanwhile, he starts to realize that “Smith” has his own reasons for wanting Sammy acquitted — reasons that that lead Smith to start threatening Jason’s life as well as that of his brother and only remaining family member, Pete.

What ensues is a fast paced thriller in which the attorney, Jason Kolarich, races to solve multiple mysteries in order to be prepared for trial in four weeks AND save his and his brother’s life. Who killed Audrey? Who killed Perlini? Who is Smith and why is he going to such outrageous extremes to help Sammy and hurt Jason?

David Ellis does a wonderful job engaging the reader from the first page and keeping the reader hooked. Kolarich may not be the most believable attorney as he also excels in investigative skills and can physically defend himself against some of the most dangerous men… but this is all explained by his background as an athlete with a rough past and abusive father. It can happen. And regardless, the book was entertaining and the reader will start cheering for Kolarich as well as hope that he can overcome the grief that has been dragging him down until now.

The Hidden Man is the first in a new series, so we will be seeing Jason Kolarich again and I certainly look forward to it!

Jenny is a social worker in her late twenties who also works part time as an intern counselor/therapist to complete her master’s degree in mental health counseling. She lives with her husband and Jack Russell Terrier in the central Florida area.