Review: Hidden

Hidden: First in a new mystery series (Nicole Jones) by Olson, Karen E.(November 1, 2015) Hardcover - Karen E. Olson

Hidden should appeal to the mystery/suspense fans. The female protagonist is also a big draw here because of what she has to do to survive, especially when her entire life is turned upside down when a former lover finds her wanting revenge. Hidden also has a small town feel, because where the story takes place, plus the heroine is a former hacker turned bike tour guide. She's also forty, so she's mature, smart and thinks on her feet.

Nicole is a ghost who doesn't really exist. She lives on Block Island, a very small beach community that caters to tourists. Fifteen years ago, Nicole was a big hacker, addicted to her computer and stealing money, mainly because of her father. Her lover at the time was also a big addiction of hers. They were like Bonnie and Clyde, but in the virtual realm. She even ran away with him, but they were caught by someone Nicole cared about. She then disappeared, living a very quiet lifestyle by staying off the computer and the internet.

A blast from her past shows up. He calls himself Zeke, and works for the FBI, which Nicole knows is false. Zeke isn't his real name. He stole it from the actual agent Nicole fell in love with around the time she ran off with her lover, who now calls himself Zeke. He wants Nicole to hack into a bank account in order to take the money he feels is owed to him. Nicole doesn't have much of a choice because he has the upper hand and could reveal her location. The cops are still looking for her, including a dangerous man she and Zeke stole from. But she's also weak when it comes to Zeke, and as she tries to figure out a way to get rid of him, as well as disappear, her taste of hacking, and for Zeke comes back in full force. Nicole's past sins come back to haunt her, and they may get her killed.

Hidden is the type of story that is slowly revealed as Karen Olson uses flashbacks in Nicole's life that builds up the tension and action as she tries to outwit Zeke, who may or may not want her back. Is he just using her for her hacking skills or is he consumed with revenge because she left him to die? Or maybe he's so obsessed with her, that he wants her for himself, thinking they can ride off into the sunset again like they did over a decade and a half ago?

Nicole is a fighter, who knows she should be punished for her criminal activities, but can't give up her freedom. You sympathize with her because she's not a bad person, unlike Zeke (or is her). There are enough twists and turns that keep readers riveted. Hidden might not have a lot of shoot em up, dragged out fights, but it still delivers, especially with an ending that will have you anxious for the next installment in Nicole's life as she tries to find a safe placed to hide.