In Jason Pinter’s Hide Away, Connecticut mom Rachel Marin flees to the midwest with her two children after her husband is brutally killed. She settles in Ashby, Illinois, hoping to keep a low profile. But soon she’s helping the police solve the murder of the town’s mayor. Her close working relationship with Detective John Serrano leads to romance and a new job as a forensic consultant to the Ashby Police Department.
Knowing a killer may still be after her family, Rachel trains with a woman known as Myra to become a fighting machine. In Ashby, she equips her home with high level security and technology. But the one part of her life she can’t control involves her son, Eric. Now 13, Eric was nine when he discovered his father’s mutilated body, a vision that continues to haunt him. Depressed and withdrawn, Eric is the perfect target for people who prey on vulnerable teenage boys.
Rachel’s two responsibilities – to help the police and protect her son – collide when she is called to a crime scene. The body of Matthew Linklater, a social studies teacher at Ashby High School, is found in his burned down home. A preliminary investigation shows that the fire was arson and that Linklater was assaulted and tortured before he died. When Rachel learns the identity of the dead man, she’s alarmed. Linklater emailed Rachel the day before expressing his concern that some of his students were in danger.
Rachel soon discovers that Eric is one of the students who may be in peril. Small and quiet, Eric is often bullied by classmates until a tall, muscular senior comes to his aid. Benjamin Ruddock invites Eric to a meeting at 1 a.m. at Voss Field, the baseball stadium, without giving too many details about what will happen, other than to say, it’s an opportunity to “stop being pushed around by people at home.”
Eric decides to take Ben up on his offer, climbing out of his bedroom window. What Eric doesn’t know is that, as a safety precaution, Rachel has placed cameras inside his room. She sees him leave, but can’t follow because her young daughter, Megan, is asleep. She calls Serrano and he agrees to go to Voss Field. Once there, he’s shocked to find more than a dozen teenage boys, including Eric, gathered for a talk by a local businessman, Bennett Brice. The sales pitch is long and ambiguous, not giving Serrano cause to arrest Brice. But when a fight breaks out between two of the boys, one being seriously injured, he makes his presence known. Eric is furious, grasping that his mother sent Serrano to check up on him. The estrangement between mother and son grows, increasing Rachel’s anxiety and Eric’s exposure.
Rachel is even more alarmed when Myra, real name Evie Boggs, shows up on her doorstep. The two women were close at one point, sharing secrets Rachel now wishes she had kept to herself. But Evie’s visit isn’t a social call. She tells Rachel to stay away from investigating the Linklater murder. Rachel is in the dark about Evie’s connection to the case, but knowing the woman’s capabilities, she understands the threat. Once again, Rachel must protect her family while also help the police bring to justice a vicious killer.
Pinter, a doting father himself, skillfully taps into every parent’s challenge – keeping children safe in a world filled with pitfalls. That task becomes even harder when children pull away, seeking independence, or leave the nest for good.
A Stranger at the Door
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