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The Hiding Place

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  1,316 ratings  ·  200 reviews
Sometimes it’s easier to believe a lie.

Twenty-five-years ago, the disappearance of four-year-old Justin Manning rocked the small town of Dove Point, Ohio. After his body was found in a shallow grave in the woods two months later, the repercussions were felt for years.

Janet Manning has been haunted by the murder since the day she lost sight of her brother in the park. Now,...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by NAL Trade
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The Hiding Place by David Bell was an engrossing tale with many unique plot twists that kept my interest even during a stressed out - got too much work to do - state This book was a GoodReads give-away, but I still highly reccommend this book to anyone who likes police-procedurals and family-drama type mysteries. This is worth your while to read and wonder about as you ask what appears to be obvious questions. Why would you let your seven year old baby-sit her four year old brother?
What would...more
Diane S.
It has been a very long time since I couldn't wait to get home from work to finish a book. Really wanted to find out who did it and what happened. This is a very frightening story , more so because it is a 4 yr. old child who is killed and his 7 yr. old sister was supposed to be watching him. This is a family with many secrets and all come to a head on the 25th anniversary of the boy's death. Well written, rapidly paced and very suspenseful. Now I have to go back and read his first book which I...more
Another solid one from Bell, an author I've only recently discovered. The man can write a very good domestic mystery/literary thriller. I've compared his other book to Coben, but I now think he's more like Jennifer McMahon, partially due to his use of strong female characters, but also something about the style. This one is all fairness is less twisty and more predictable than his other mystery, but the writing is consistently impressive along with character development and pacing, so quick, pag...more
Dale Harcombe
Three and a half stars. To begin with I found it very strange and irresponsible that a parent would send two children off to the nearby park with the seven year old sister expected to look after the four year old brother, Justin. This is a recipe for trouble if ever there was one and so it turns out, when the four year old child goes missing and then the body is discovered some time later. The reason why two children were sent off to the park on their own is not uncovered until much later in the...more
Diana Leigh
Rating: 4½-stars

THE HIDING PLACE is another amazing book going on my 2012 favorites list. It's a haunting story of a terrible crime, and the family secrets and lies surrounding it that finally surface over two decades later.

A young boy was murdered, his accused killer sent to prison. But on the 25th anniversary of the crime, there's a renewed interest in the case. The victim's sister and one of the detectives who investigated the murder are having doubts the right man was convicted.

Through his c...more
A gripping tale that reels you in and has you wanting to know the truth.
A crime long gone more than twenty years passed and one man in prison for the crime. New information and faces unearth this old crime that would have been proven more accurately if modern forensics were to hand in the past when this family faced their loss.
This story read like a Harlan Coben story with an apt twist in its tale.

Review also @
Crystal Craig
Twenty years ago, Janet Manning's younger brother, Justin, disappeared. Seven-year-old, Janet was in charge of her four-year-old brother that day. They were at the park, alone for the first time. But, Janet got distracted. Her best friend, Michael was in the park that day too. They played together and soon Janet forgot about her brother. Next thing, Justin was gone … gone forever.

Twenty years later, Janet and her teenage daughter, Ashleigh live in the house Janet grew up in -- along with her fa...more
The Hiding Place by David Bell
Twenty-five years ago Janet Manning's four year old brother disappeared. His body was found some weeks later in a woods not far from the family home. Now, all these years later, a mysterious man has appeared on Janet's doorstep in the night, claiming to know the truth about her brother's death. The man disappears, and Janet tries to put it out of her mind, but her teenage daughter has overheard the conversation, and begins an investigation of her own.
The memories of...more
Darcia Helle
Some mysteries are straight forward whodunits, while others, like this one, offer many layers and lots to think about. I found the characters believable and was intrigued by the various relationships. Bell shines a bright light on the issue of guilt, innocence, and that gray area in between. The plot had some twists but, for me, it was more about how one past event forever changed so many lives.

At times, certain issues and conversations were rehashed a bit too much. The pace slowed and I wanted...more
Honor Kelly
This story combines a family story (uncovering buried secrets), a mystery (who killed the victim 25 years ago), personal growth (how does someone recover from family tragedy?), coming of age (how do teens process family tragedy?), and a minor theme of racial justice. The author does a masterful job of interlinking these into a coherent story of a detective--and the surviving family--revisiting the murder of a young boy.

I found this to be a not-fully-satisfactory mix of thriller and literary nove...more
This book had me hooked from the first chapter. I enjoyed the writing style and seeing the story for a few different characters' perspectives. It was a mystery about a 4yr old boy who was murdered 25 years ago, and suddenly new twists to the tale start bubbling to the surface to make everyone reevaluate what happened. A good read overall.
Theresa Haskins
When I read the summary of this book, I was hopeful I would enjoy it. It appeared to be the kind of book that would hold my interest (which is difficult to do!). I was not one bit disappointed! All the way to the very last page!

I don't want to say too much, to give the story away. What I will say is this: when I read books, any books, even for pure pleasure, I read every word. I might reread a section or two, to be sure I understand every character and how they fit in the story. I want to be cer...more
I'm not normally a fan of suspense novels -- if you see what I normally read, it's usually soft sci-fi, fantasy, and steampunk -- but this novel, recommended by my local book club, was very engrossing. I sat down and started reading a couple of chapters after finishing some homework one night, and the next thing I knew I was around Chapter 10 and it was almost midnight!! Needless to say, I became sucked into the characters' lives, wondering if Janet (one of the main characters) would ever truly...more
Kimberly Gallagher
I thought this was poorly written. I could almost hear the b-rated scary movie music playing behind the scenes. I forced myself to finish to the end, I wanted to find out what happened, though I had zero emotional stirrings for any of the flat characters.
Lisa Nienhaus
This was the first book I have read by David Bell. Once I picked the book up, I had a hard time putting it down. It really drew me in and I really liked Janet, the main character. Janet's brother Justin dies when she is 7 years old. As an adult, with a daughter, Janet's father gets laid off from his job and Janet and her daughter Ashleigh move into with Janet's Dad to help him make ends meet. I didn't find all the characters in this book likeable and realistic. But most characters were people on...more
Bit slow, but over all a good story.
Well-written and tauntly crafted.
A few months ago I read David Bell's other novel, "Cemetery Girl," the review of which you can find on here. One of my biggest complaints was that "Cemetery Girl" had a less than satisfactory ending. I felt like I was left hanging. In contrast, "The Hiding Place" has a complete ending. All of the questions are answered, and you don't need an epilogue to tie things up. However, and that's a big however, I'm not sure it's an improvement.

Janet Manning is haunted by the murder of her little brother...more
review to post Oct 5, 2012
Unlike Bell's Cemetery Girl his The Hiding Place was a slow book for me, it did not really pick up before short of two-hundred pages in. This said, I have also to say that The Hiding Place is a much stronger, much better executed novel. Bell uses similar themes here: Loss, guilt and family - and to a much lesser extent sexualised violence (thanks to God, because frankly I feel that he lacks in that department; he's trying to hard to let his readers get off easy, which with this particular topic...more
Four year old Justin Manning disappeared twenty five years ago from a neighborhood park where he and his sister were playing. It was the first time they went to the park alone. Their mother thought there would be plenty of adults there to watch them and she had to have an important discussion with her husband. Justin's body was found two months later in a shallow grave in the woods. But was it really his body?

As the 25th anniversary approaches and the man accused of his murder is granted parole,...more
Starr Reina
Twenty-five years ago, Janet Manning’s four-year-old brother disappeared. His body was found some weeks later in the woods not far from the family home. Now, all these years later, a mysterious man has appeared on Janet’s doorstep in the night, claiming to know the truth about her brother’s death. The man disappears and Janet tries to put it out of her mind, but her teenage daughter has overheard the conversation and begins an investigation of her own.

The memories of that day in the past, when J...more
Terri Lynn
I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway and was thrilled to win it because I had heard so many good things about it. I loved it!

My father had cheated on my mother all through their marriage and I saw some other relatives and some parents of some school friends cheat on spouses and have absolutely no respect for those who cheat on a spouse. When you make those vows, no matter what happens in the marriage, you need to keep your promises. If you don't want to, you need to be honest with your s...more
Oct 19, 2013 Mary rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes contemporary mysteries
Recommended to Mary by: Library Book Sale
Twenty-five years ago, the disappearance of four-year-old Justin Manning stunned the small town of Dove Point, Ohio. When his body was discovered buried in a shallow grave in the woods two months later, the repercussions were felt for years...

Janet Manning has been haunted by the murder ever since she lost sight of her little brother in the park. Now with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Justin's death looming, a detective and a newspaper reporter have started asking questions, reopening old woun...more
Imagine yourself when you are 7 and at the park with your 4 year old brother. You have never been sent alone before, the park isn't far away. Your friend Michael, wants to show you something, you lose sight of your little brother and he disappears. Two months later, his body is recovered in a shallow grave in the woods by the park.I really liked this book, the plot had me from the very beginning. As time went by, the man who went to prison for 22 years is released, your friend Michael has some r...more
The book did keep me captivated by the twists and turns. On the other hand, I can't say it was a page turner because it was a bit of a slog. There are too many characters that fit into the plot but aren't fleshed out. I despised the main character Janet and didn't feel any of the characters captured my heart.

My favorite character was Kevin, Janet's daughter's best friend. He is loveable. The kind of guy I wouldn't mind my daughter dating. The author included him in a few chapters but he almost...more
Once Upon
On the 25th anniversary of an event that shook the roots of a small town named Dove Point, was again brought forward by new inquiries. Memories and feelings started to flow differently, to reopen a wound that will maybe be put to rest after the new discoveries.
For the first time, seven year old Janet was allowed to go to the park by herself and watch over her 4 year old brother. She could not wait to tell her best friend once he showed up at the park. It took just one moment of loosing sight of...more
Gloria Feit
David Bell introduces the reader to the family of Justin Manning, a boy who was murdered twenty-five years ago, when he was only four years old, his body found six weeks after he had disappeared, buried in a shallow grave in the woods near a playground. His sister, Janet Manning, who, at the age of seven, had been entrusted for the first time with the care of her brother in the park where he had been playing, compounded by her mother’s death a few years later from (as they said) a broken heart,...more
David Bell’s highly engrossing novel, The Hiding Place, tells the story of the disappearance and murder of four-year-old Justin Manning and how it affected the small town of Dove Point, Ohio. Readers are introduced to his sister, Janet, who along with friends was the last one to see Justin alive. After almost twenty-five years later, a newspaper reporter and detected are digging into the case that is nurturing new doubts and could prove the man convicted for the murder innocent. Plenty of twists...more
I was first drawn to this book because the title grabbed my attention. I was at Barnes & Noble, and the books were on a table for sale. I then, read the synopsis and immediately knew this was a book that I would love to read.

The book has everything to keep the reader hooked from the beginning. Mixed with mystery, kidnapping, murder, suicide, family secrets, and memories, this book pulled me in from the very beginning. I couldn’t imagine the guilt, sadness, and anger Janet felt when her littl...more
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David J. Bell is the author of THE FORGOTTEN GIRL, NEVER COME BACK, THE HIDING PLACE, and CEMETERY GIRL. He is currently an Associate Professor of English at Western Kentucky University and can be reached via his website at, on Twitter at, and on Facebook at
More about David J. Bell...
Cemetery Girl Never Come Back The Forgotten Girl The Girl in the Woods The Condemned

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