Picks and Pans Review: Hide & Seek

updated 08/22/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/22/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Clare Sambrook
NOVEL

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It's impossible not to think of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time when reading Hide & Seek, a first novel by British writer Clare Sambrook. Like Curious Incident, Sambrook's book is a tale told from the narrow perspective of a boy whose life is going through some very adult changes—changes which he doesn't have the full capacity to understand. And while her book may never feel quite as clever as Mark Haddon's, Sam-brook stays squarely within the endearing voice of her narrator and evokes lots of genuine emotion.

That narrator, Harry Pickles, is a wise (so he thinks) 9-year-old. His greatest concern is keeping his ranking in the playground pecking order—until one day when he and his friends and his brother Daniel go on a school trip and, before day's end, Daniel disappears. Sambrook deftly and suspensefully builds up to the disappearance. But once Dan is gone, her hand is less sure; the story turns into a subtler, and occasionally meandering, look at how, in one instant, the world can become a bewildering place.

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