Books: The Hiker

I absolutely enjoyed reading The Hiker by M. J. Ford because of its carefully-constructed plot, authentic characters and the cracker of an ending.

The Hiker by M.J. Ford

Two estranged sisters, Sarah and Gemma, tell this contemporary crime thriller separately; I enjoy reading thrillers told from different characters’ perspectives because there’s often a tension deriving from one character’s information that relates to the other characters. The different perspectives kept the story’s pace ticking along.

Sarah is a successful lawyer living with her fiance, Doug, in London. Gemma is working in an elder care home, out of London, with her just laid off boyfriend. They are in debt and now in danger of serious harm by their landlord’s gangster son. Mark hatches a crazy scheme to blackmail some marijuana growers up north in Hartsbridge. 

Sarah is approached at her workplace by police making inquiries about Gemma. A burnt-out car belonging to Mark was found, one dead body inside it. The police ask if Sarah knows about Gemma’s whereabouts but Sarah hasn’t had contact with Gemma for more than 5 years. Their childhoods weren’t great: Sarah rose above it, Gemma didn’t.

Remarkably, the day after the police visit, Sarah receives a card from Gemma, sent from Hartsbridge. Despite her wedding being just days away, Sarah drives north to where the burnt-out car was found. Hartsbridge is a small village and so Sarah is able to make some quick progress in determining that Gemma was there but is not now. Sarah’s inquiries reveal some odd behaviour by some locals – sufficient for her to remain and continue her search for Gemma. 

The local police are supportive and keep Sarah informed of their investigation. Soon, evidence is found by hikers that strongly suggests Gemma has been killed. DNA samples are taken and the investigation takes on a different mood.

The plot takes several interesting twists that I’ll not reveal here – because no one likes spoilers in a review. They’re credible, well-constructed twists and the story picks up pace so that I read the second half of the book in one sitting. 

This is one of those contemporary crime thrillers, like Girl on the Train, that could be set now, feels real, and could be happening to any of us. And that’s probably what makes it such a good read – it’s outrageous but read any daily newspaper and you think, ‘this could happen to me’.  

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because the characters were ordinary you-or-me people. The situation was credible and the conclusion was well-constructed and satisfying. (Satisfying means I said, ‘good’ or ‘well done’ at the last page). 

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