The Hidden Man
Nine years after San Francisco’s great earthquake and fires, the city is just beginning to be reborn and is full of possibility. Against this backdrop, and the 1915 Pan-Pacific Exhibition, Detective Randall Blackburn and his adoptive children, Shane and Vignette Nightingale, struggle to understand their places in the world—all while protecting the famous mesmerist James “J.D.” Duncan from a threat only he can see.
Though this book is a sequel to The Last Nightingale, reading the first book is not a prerequisite (I did not). The setting and concept had a great deal of potential; sadly, I do not think the execution capitalizes on either.
The setting—both time and place—felt like props rather than integral parts of the story; I never felt a real sense of place or time, though the details were strewn throughout. The same can be said for the characters: I wanted very much to care about them and their plight (particularly Shane), but I just couldn’t connect with them. They felt very much like props themselves.
The potentially interesting characters were done a real disservice with a flimsy plot and sluggish pacing. The book is serviceably written but could have used a much stronger hand in editing for continuity, content (so many long expository passages!), and line editing.
Overall, the book is enjoyable enough, though I would recommend it only for historical fiction fans who want a quick read in between works with more depth.