Hidden Things by Doyce Testerman

Hidden Things by Doyce Testerman
Harper Voyager/August 21st, 2012
Urban Fantasy
Kind thanks to Harper Voyager for providing a review copy

Watch out for the hidden things . . . That’s the last thing Calliope Jenkins’s best friend says to her before ending a two a.m. phone call from Iowa, where he’s working a case she knows little about. Seven hours later, she gets a visit from the police. Josh has been found dead, and foul play is suspected. Calliope is stunned. Especially since Josh left a message on her phone an hour after his body was found. Spurred by grief and suspicion, Calli heads to Iowa herself, accompanied by a stranger who claims to know something about what happened to Josh and who can— maybe—help her get him back. But the road home is not quite the straight shot she imagined . . .

When Calliope Jenkins gets a call very early in the morning from her ex and work partner, Josh, she’s not sure what to think. He’s obviously following a lead, but what? And why did he tell her to watch out for the hidden things right before hanging up the phone? These are certainly the questions that are on Calliope’s mind when she gets the news the next day that Josh has been found dead, and she’s the last known person to have talked to him. Dealing with the aftermath of Josh’s death is enough to handle, not to mention his wife’s grief and bitterness, but there’s also the mysterious figure (with rather big feet) that keeps showing up at the most inopportune times. As Calli sets out to find the truth about what really happened to Josh, she quickly realizes that reality seems to be slipping, and things are never quite what they seem.

What a gem of a debut! At the start of the novel, Calli’s pain where Josh is concerned isn’t entirely evident, but as the story unfolds, it becomes clearer and clearer just how much she cares for him, and her grief is a tangible thing, interspersed in interludes that complement, but never interrupt, the action. Twists and turns don’t even begin to describe this one. Calli’s journey back to Iowa is fraught with danger, so good thing she has a guide in the form of Vikous. He would be the one with the big feet, that looks suspiciously like a clown. He’s grumpy as hell, but there’s a certain charm to him. A certain odd, creepy charm. Calli is snarky and confrontational, and I adored her. Strangely enough, she and Vikous made a pretty great team. Lest you think that this book is about finding Josh’s killer, it sort of is, but really, it’s about Calli’s journey back to the hometown, and family, that she thought didn’t want her anymore. And what a journey! It turns out that you can go home again, but to tell you more would be to reveal much of the awesome that this book is made of. The cover will give you a hint, and I dare you to get through this lovely, soaring book without at least tearing up a little (I may have teared up a lot.) You also may find yourself with a huge, silly grin on your face at the end. Testerman writes with a fluid, sure hand, and your brain will rebel at the thought that this book is a first novel. Can you tell I loved it? I did, and I can’t wait for more from this author!

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