Hiding in Third Person
Archway Publishing (2017)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (08/17)
Article first published as Book Review: ‘Hiding in Third Person’ by Phil Bradley on Blogcritics.
“Hiding in Third Person” by Phil Bradley is a compelling and intriguing psychological thriller following two unlikely friends as they navigate through desperate times and questionable choices trying to escape an assassin deep in the New Jersey Pinelands.
The story begins at the Cumberland County Asylum with Ricky, one of the orderlies, who gives readers a glimpse of life inside the facility. Used to hearing far-fetched stories from the patients, and taking them at face value, Ricky is uncharacteristically drawn to the patient dubbed by some of the other orderlies as Mr. River.
Though it is his tendency to keep to himself, over the years Mr. River relates an incredible tale of violence, gang activity, runaway teens, and murder to all who would listen. Because of his remarkable tale, the doctors of the asylum do not believe Mr. River has any chance of getting better, and plan to move him to a more appropriate institution as soon as possible. Sensing that Mr. River’s story is true, Ricky becomes River’s champion of sorts, and sets out to prove the legitimacy of the tale.
First off, a personal note to the author: you had me at the title. I found the clever, enticing play on words unique and refreshing, and combined with the simple yet enigmatic cover, I could not wait to dive into the story. To be honest, if I am initially swayed by the cover and title (I know! It’s not supposed to happen that way, but…), I tend to set higher expectations for the material inside. I’m not entirely sure it is intentional, but it happens nonetheless. With “Hiding in Third Person,” my expectations were met and exceeded, as I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this story.
The author’s voice is distinctive and crisp; the writing is brilliant and just plain engaging. From the present day setting inside the asylum, to the flashbacks of two teens hiding out in an abandoned military base, Bradley’s style paints clear and defined pictures, plunging readers directly into the plot.
The characters are realistic, well-defined and multi-dimensional. I liked connecting with Ricky, the protagonist, as I discovered his many different characteristics. He makes the most of a depressing job with his witty, satirical nature, yet goes weak in the knees over intern Dr. Benitez. He shows a fierce compassion for his patients in the mental institution and is inclined to help the underdog. Ricky truly is the heart of the story, as is Malachi, who you will meet when you read the book, but I enjoyed the secondary characters as well. With real issues and idiosyncrasies, all the characters played key roles in the drama.
In summary, I found “Hiding in Third Person” by Phil Bradley to be a fascinating tale of suspense full of the inconceivable and the unexpected, that will leave you thinking about the story days after the reading is finished. Excellent read.