Publisher: Allen & Unwin (Trade Paperback – 1 December 2020)
Series: Timothy Blake – Book Three
Length: 406 pages
My Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Australian bestselling author Jack Heath brings back his cannibalistic protagonist, Timothy Blake, for another gruesome adventure in Hideout.
Timothy Blake, occasional FBI consultant and full-time murderous cannibal, is on the run, convinced that his former employers are close to capturing him for his unfortunate habit. With nothing to lose, Blake decides to take out one final target and travels to a house in rural Texas where Fred, the ringleader of a group of dark web torture video producers, lives. However, his plan to kill and consume Fred quickly goes out the window when he finds out that this target is not alone.
Fred has gathered five of his cohorts, known as the Guards, each of whom makes a living off torturing, extorting and killing people on the dark web. Pretending to be an online associate of the Guards who is in trouble, Blake manages to con his way into the house, convincing them that he is a just as twisted as they are. His subsequent plan to pick off his new companions one by one seems like a winner, until one of the Guard turns up dead by someone else’s hands.
It soon becomes apparent to Blake that another killer is stalking his new hideout, one who is determined to keep their secrets no matter what. With his cover likely to be blown at any second and his ravenous hunger for human flesh threatening to overwhelm him, Blake needs to find a way to survive and overwhelm his companions. However, the discovery of a group of desperate people chained up in the building behind the house complicates everything, especially when the Guards’ latest victim arrives. Can Blake take out this group of psychopaths before he is picked off by another killer, or has this cannibal finally met his match?
Hideout is a fun and compelling novel from Canberran author Jack Heath, who has once again come up with an exciting adventure for his distinctive protagonist. Heath is a well-established author who primarily made a name for himself with young adult and children’s thriller fiction, such as his Six of Hearts, The Liars, The Danger and The Scream series. However, Heath has also branched off into adult thrillers with his Timothy Blake novels. The Timothy Blake series started in 2018 with the first entry, Hangman, and it follows its dysfunctional cannibal protagonist as he investigates a series of different and thrilling mysteries. Hideout is the third entry in this series and is set shortly after the events of the second novel, Hunter (which was also released under the title Just One Bite). This is actually first Jack Heath novel that I have read, and while I was deeply intrigued by the previous Timothy Blake books, I did not get a chance to grab a copy. However, I really enjoyed Hideout and I am definitely going to go out of my way to obtain any additional novels Heath writes in the future.
This third Timothy Blake book proved to be quite an impressive and compelling read, as the protagonist finds himself trapped with six other psychopaths, each of whom torture and kill people online for a living. This proves to be quite an intriguing scenario, as this bold protagonist bluffs his way into the house and plots various ways to kill them. However, the whole scenario inevitably gets out of hand, and Blake finds himself having to investigate the murder of one of the killers he is trapped with. This results in an excellent story and I loved the blend of mystery, great interactions, and the character’s attempts to keep his cover, especially as Heath also throws in a little commentary about current society (some of which is exceedingly relevant, particularly this week). I really liked where the author took his awesome story, and all the various twists, revelations and surprising actions made for quite a compelling and thrilling read. I especially loved all the excellent foreshadowing that the author utilised, as nearly every stray thought or memory from the protagonist came into play somewhere later in the book. The story is extremely fast paced, and readers should be able to power through it in short order, especially once they get wrapped up in the captivating narrative. I also appreciated how easy it was for those people unfamiliar with the previous Timothy Blake novels to read Hideout, as Heath has made it quite accessible, with all the key elements from the previous books explained in sufficient detail. Naturally, as this is a novel about a cannibal living undercover with dark web torturers, this is a particularly dark book and people who have issues with torture, gruesome killings and cannibalism might want to avoid it. Overall, this was an amazing narrative, and I had a fantastic and exhilarating time getting through it.
I quite enjoyed the damaged and intriguing protagonist that was Timothy Blake, and it was rather fun following the adventures of a cannibal. While there are some obvious parallels to Dexter in this character as a killer who target criminals, I felt that Blake was distinctive enough in his own right and he ended up being an interesting character to set a book around. I really enjoyed seeing the entire narrative unfold from his perspective as the character adds some intriguing elements to the story. There is something desperate and feral in this character that translates off the page, and he is haunted by some of the events from the previous novels, especially as he believes that his freedom or life is nearly over. While the origins of his cannibalistic tendencies are not really covered in Hideout (I assume that they are detailed in prior books), you do get an idea of this character’s troubled past and how he helped as an FBI consultant. Despite being a killer and unrepentant flesh eater, Blake is constantly trying to be a good person, and it was fascinating to see him try to save certain lives while plotting the deaths of the various members of the Guards. Blake also proves to be a canny investigator and trickster even though his formal education is rather lacking, managing to fool the people he lives with while also solving the curious mysteries that Heath came up with. I loved the cannibalistic side of the protagonist and it was quite amusing to see him considering the various people and corpses he encounters, wondering about how much meat he could get off them and how likely he could get away with eating. This hunger proves to be an interesting driving force for Blake throughout the book, especially as, to maintain his cover, he has to consume a vegetarian diet, which messes with his mind a little. I also enjoyed the way in which Heath is clearly not amazingly attached to his protagonist, as Blake goes through some stuff which changes him in some substantial ways. I ended up really liking this complex and enjoyable character and I look forward to seeing what his future adventures entail, especially as Heath sets up an interesting potential story arc for the next book.
Heath has also filled up Hideout with some other compelling characters who stay on the property with Blake for most of the book. The most prominent of these are the members of the Guards, the six psychopaths who video themselves torturing people to make money. While on the surface all of these characters are despicable, Heath spends time examining each of their personalities and histories, fleshing them out and showing that their various motivations are a lot more complex than initially believed. This helps to create a richer story, especially as each of the characters have their own unique secrets that come into play throughout the narrative and ensure a much more complex mystery for Blake to solve, as well as adding in some compelling connections to the protagonist. There is also a further group of characters on the property who are a major part of the book’s plot. Like the members of the Guards, there is more to these characters than initially appears, and their plight is a rather intriguing ethical inclusion to the story. One of these characters is featured quite significantly throughout the book due to their prior connections to Blake, and it was fascinating to see the massively negative impacts of Blake’s interactions with them. All of this results in quite a character-rich narrative, and I quite enjoyed seeing how some of the arcs played out and how the protagonist interacted with them.
Hideout by Australian author Jack Heath ended up being a fun and compelling novel, and I had an amazing time reading it. Heath makes excellent use of his unique protagonist, inventive plot scenario and fast-paced story to create an awesome thriller that readers can easily enjoy and get through quickly. While a bit gruesome in places, this is an undoubtedly entertaining thriller that readers are going to have fun getting through. I look forward to seeing how the Timothy Blake series continues in the future, and the next book should be a fantastic and exhilarating ride.