In ‘Hiding Hand’, Lee Denning’s successor book to ‘The Monkey Trap’, Joshua, the boy in the earlier book, is now 18 and facing a conflict between the love of power and the power of love. He and his young sister, Eva, are the first in the next stage of human evolution and, when his parents are disabled and his uncle killed, he becomes entirely responsible for his young sister.
They are the first true Nova sapiens and, as well as confronting the forces arrayed against them, he must try to control what is perhaps the greater danger of the dark side of his evolving self.
We first encounter the pair canoeing through the waters of Ireland, but they are being tracked in a submarine by a psychopathic Moslem cleric who wants to control the power of the evolving Novas for himself. The cleric is aided by a mysterious Muslim woman, Elia, who seems to have psychic powers of foreseeing of her own.
When the cleric kidnaps Eva, Elia is accidentally rescued from the cleric by Joshua. She then helps him in his quest to rescue Eva and, whilst they are working together to this aim, they fall in love. This is apparently forbidden to her and unwise for him.
The cleric has apparently overwhelming resources, including a machine that can degrade the part of the brain dealing with moral balance which he uses to deceive Joshua and re-capture Elia. Now Joshua is on his own whilst the cleric’s machine continues to degrade his powers and pushes him towards a demented love of power for its own sake. Joshua must use the abilities he has to protect the Novas and rescue Elia but will he need to use the dark powers in his nature to do this?
As well as being something of a thriller the story intertwines mysticism and science. I did not especially enjoy this book because it was not entirely to my taste. Consequently, after starting reading it, I put it away for a time and only finished it much later, so perhaps that I lost the thread somewhat. I do know many people who enjoy a book filled with mysticism and if you are one of them, I would say in the book’s favour that it is a well-written example of the genre. The author’s descriptions are quite vivid and I do think this brings the action scenes in particular to life.
Overall, being rather a spaceships and rayguns fan, this was not a book I enjoyed. I also feel, which I know puts me in a minority, that I rather object to characters with super-powers as did the ancient Greeks who objected when a playwright used the deux ex machina ending of having a dod appear to sort out all the human problems, the playwright had created when he tangled up his plot. I know this is unfair as the essence of this book is how Joshua in particular reconciles himself to his powers. So if you like fantasy and mysticism this may be a book for you.
(pub: Twilight Times Books. 376 page enlarged paperback. Price: $19.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-60619-016-6)