Hiding in Sunshine – John and Caitlin Stuart

Hiding In SunshineGavin and Lisa Brinkley have it all. Two beautiful daughters, Becky and Jessica; a beautiful mansion on a 8-acre lot in Concord, Massachusetts; incredible wealth from Gavin’s many patents. An incredibly gifted high-tech entrepreneur, Gavin has secured enough royalties from his patents to keep the Brinkleys millionaires for the rest of their lives. Until one day when his patents are no longer enough to keep them safe, and in fact may be contributing to the mysterious events that surround them. Suddenly, an FBI agent is at their door, telling them that they are being targeted by a huge, shadowy cyber-criminal organization called the Enterprise, and are to be put into the Witness Protection Program immediately.

Say goodbye to the beautiful mansion in Concord, to the wonderful private schools, to the Mercedes and BMWs and millions of dollars; now, the Brinkleys are running for their lives, with new identities and a new home out West. But can they stay hidden from the Enterprise forever?

I really wanted to like this book. The premise was so interesting, and I love me a good thriller. I was also intrigued by the fact that this was written by a father-daughter team, and I thought that was kinda cool. But this, frankly, was anything but.

First of all, the characters are all 100% flat and not developed at all. It’s like they didn’t even try. Everyone was characterized by exactly one (or maybe, maybe two) traits. Caitlin is smart. Lisa is frustrated. Gavin is brilliant. Blah blah blah. Whatever.

Second of all, the plot was not fleshed out at all, nor was the timeline. It was unclear throughout the entire book when exactly all this was happening. I remember FINALLY coming upon an indication of how long they had been hiding, and it had apparently be nine years since they had left Massachusetts. And it was very much like, wait. Hold on. Those few chapters spanned nine years?

That was a problem throughout the book. What I read seemed like an outline of a novel that would be fleshed out later. There were no details. It was very much like: First this happened. Then it was Christmas. Then this happened. Then this other thing happened. And oh look it’s Christmas again. Within a span of pages!

Third, the grammar really got to me. It read like an unedited version of a high schooler’s literary magazine submission. I wish I could find the sentences I’m thinking of, but my iPad took a dump the other day and I can’t currently access anything on it (I had highlighted a few particularly heinous sentences).

And finally, the ending was just too easy. It was all, Gavin figured out who did this to him and with the help of some shady buddies from back in the day managed to turn the tables and reinstate himself as the rich guy with the fabulous house. Ugh.

I will admit that I was grudgingly interested in the plot. Despite the book’s obvious flaws and despite not caring much about the characters, I was still curious about where they were going with all of it. I will admit that I didn’t see the end coming, so they get props for not being TOTALLY obvious (or hey, who knows, maybe I’m just oblivious).

Oh, and the last thing that really irritated me was that “Stuart” was the last name that the Brinkleys ended up with as an identity, with Gavin becoming “John,” and Becky becoming “Caitlin.” Now that is just too ridiculous. Writing as if this is their autobiography or something? Please. Way too much kitsch for me. Bleh.

Don’t read this book. I got it for free on NetGalley and I’ll probably still delete it off my iPad. Although the reviews on Amazon are pretty stellar, which surprised me quite a bit. I guess they must have had all their friends and family review it for them. Oh well. I still wouldn’t recommend this book for anyone.


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