A Place to Hide

Robert Westall, Author Scholastic $13.95 (199p) ISBN 978-0-590-47748-2
This engrossing thriller, published in Britain before the author's death last year, takes a stretched premise and turns it into an absorbing psychological story. Just after 18-year-old Lucy graduates from school, her widowed father orders her to disappear for her own safety. He is about to expose a big government crime, but can give her no details lest he implicate her as a conspirator. Dressed up in her dead mother's clothes, armed with a briefcase full of money, Lucy settles in a small town outside Manchester. Pursuing a longtime passion, she starts up an antiques shop, in time befriending a host of affable eccentrics who eventually save her life. Granted, the plot has some weaknesses-it will not be lost on the audience that Lucy could have avoided her precarious position had she simply left the country; the outcome of the story relies a bit too heavily on the benevolence of one policeman; and the ``big secret'' is slightly anticlimactic. But Westall (In Camera and Other Stories; Yaxley's Cat) effectively draws the reader into Lucy's thought patterns and fears; as she listens intently for sounds of strangers in the night, or rehashes her meager store of information, she becomes compellingly real. The author cleverly parallels political intrigue with the milder suspense of bidding on antiques, Lucy's confusion over her mother's death with her assumption of her mother's personality as a disguise. Greater depth can be found here than in most entries in the genre. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1994
Release date: 09/01/1994
Genre: Children's
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