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The Hidden    by Jo Chumas order for
by Jo Chumas
Order:  USA  Can
Thomas & Mercer, 2013 (2013)
Softcover, CD, e-Book
*   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Aimee Ibrahim is left a young widow when her newly-married husband is brutally murdered in Egypt's Sinai Desert in 1940. He was a university professor. Aimee didn't know much about him; she hadn't known him long before their whirlwind wedding. What could have precipitated the murder of a professor? He wouldn't have had anything to do with the unrest in that period of time in Egypt! Would he?

So starts The Hidden by Jo Chumas. Full of intrigue and well-researched, its story takes off running with a step back in time as Aimee is given a journal written by her own mother Hezba, a sultan's daughter. Hezba had a long term goal in mind in 1919 to be a free woman; not to have the long robes and face coverings required of Egyptian women by Egyptian men; to free herself and other women of the constraints inflicted on Egyptian women by Egyptian men; and to open a school that would give these women an education to further themselves in a man's world.

Aimee realizes, as she reads her mother's life history, that her and Hezba's lives almost run parallel in their goals. The well-thought out plot is well researched. The characters and their places in the plot are right on. The scenes could use a little more description to be able to place the reader's mind in those scenes. However, I did not find this a thriller as the cover of the book claims. There are incidents that could be thrilling but don't reach that level. Maybe it is just this reviewer, but the tale reeks of a first-time author.

I found difficulty with the Egyptian words. I respect that they had to be translated and many of them were obvious. But many left me guessing and caused a breach in my concentration on the story. A glossary would have helped a great deal. With the problems in Egypt at the moment, a book like this would help to explain their difficulties. I know the amount of work and heart that go into writing. I think a little more would have made me rate this book higher.

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