Long Time Lost starts promisingly with a fit and capable Kate, supposedly safe under the Witness Protection Scheme, having her ‘safe’ house broken into twice, first by Big Nick Miller warning that her life is in danger and she should flee with him – now – and second (after she has turned Nick away) by the killer himself. The system has failed her. Soon Kate is drawn into Big Nick’s off-the-radar new identity service, small but well-funded and with technical skills that Spooks would be proud of. The plot thickens. And gets hectic.

From here the book follows an all too familiar path in modern thrillers: Superman and his trusty female companion against the all-knowing Evil Empire. Expect shoot-outs and chases. People die. Finally comes one of those old-fashioned climaxes where at crucial moments whoever has a gun either puts it down or fails to fire it (or misses), and the villain insists on explaining the convoluted plot to his supposedly doomed victims rather than just pulling the damned trigger and wrapping it all up.

As we know, the longer he lingers …

Long Time Lost

Chris Ewan

Faber Trade paperback, £12.99, 978-0-571-30747-0

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