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Book DetailsISBN: 9781760877170
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Book Review: Hideout by Jack Heath - Reviewed by CloggieA (17 Nov 2020)
5 stars Hideout is the third book in the Timothy Blake series by award-winning Australian author, Jack Heath. The plan had been for Timothy Blake to kill Fred with the hammer stuffed down his waistband, enjoy a last meal (Fred), then suicide, removing his own monstrous presence from the world. But that all goes awry when Fred mentions that his five close friends (of the same murderous inclinations) are here, eager to meet him.
Blake is introduced to the others, a group calling themselves The Guards, and shown around the remote forest mansion. The Guard engage in something that Blake unwittingly, but to their delight, dubs “Justice Porn”: they kidnap offenders (paedophiles, rapists, domestic abusers, scammers, white supremacists) who have been released by the justice system and film their torture and murder for viewing by internet subscribers on the dark web. A group of such people is currently held captive there for the group’s, and his pleasure.
One tiny complication is that the Guards believe him to be Shannon Luxford aka Lux, one of their prolific torture video contributors, but Lux was Blake’s latest victim, now buried in Huntsville State Park. Thus our favourite cannibalistic monster is trying to fool a house full of monsters into believing that he is a different sort of monster (one he only ever met twice). If any of them twigs to his true identity, things might get rather unpleasant. The best solution would be to kill them all…
Blake knows he could call the police, “But then I wouldn’t get to eat the Guards. A thousand pounds of meat, wasted.” He does face a dilemma, though: “I only eat bad people. It’s not much of a moral code but it’s what I have. The Guards have a similar policy. Which puts me into a difficult position, ethically… Is it bad to kill people who only kill bad people?”
But before Blake gets a chance to indulge, an intruder triggers the motion sensor cameras in the surrounding trees, then one of the Guards is shot dead. As Blake maintains his act with each of the remaining Guards, he makes an unsettling personal discovery, and then a new torture candidate arrives to change the whole game.
Once again, Heath gives the reader an engrossing (although some might say gross) read with an excellent plot, some clever twists and a dramatic climax. The story neatly illustrates power of the internet and social media. As with past books in the series, Heath prefaces each chapter with a riddle, a clue to which appears in that chapter. Again, there are spoilers for the previous book(s) so it is important to read this series in order.
Blake’s inner monologue and his unsaid asides are often laugh-out-loud (if darkly) comical: “I pick up a bread knife. It’s been years since I used one of these on actual bread. The serrated edge is perfect for sawing through tendons.”
In this instalment, Blake has a close encounter with a human-sized meat grinder, performs an autopsy, has a mishap with pepper spray, and finds himself running customer support for a dark web torture site. Lacking the opportunity to dine on any of them, and because the Guards are environmentally conscious vegetarians, our favourite cannibal remains ravenously hungry for most of the novel.
There’s plenty of dark irony, especially regarding what the prisoners are fed and their ultimate fate, and this is probably not a book to read while eating or on public transport. If Heath keeps chopping bits off his protagonist, he’ll need to get quite creative with further books in the series, but given his previous work, that’s unlikely to be too much of a challenge for this talented author. Blackly funny and enormously entertaining: fans will not be disappointed in this latest taste of Timothy Blake. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Allen & Unwin.
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