Lucy Wadham's debut novel, Lost
, begins simply, horribly enough. A young wealthy widow, Alice Ayron arrives on a Mediterranean island with her two small children. Within hours her oldest son, Sam, has gone missing, presumably kidnapped. The prose is acute and observational, full of light and precision, but the atmosphere is closed in, intense with emotional and physical claustrophobia. There is the island, lush with eucalyptus and heat, and there are the islanders, poor and insular, with a penchant for violence that was "no longer the simple language of grievance and revenge". There are the images of a small child being held captive: "Sam was there huddled, with fear ... like a curled fossil." And there is the mother's panic: "Each time she called his name, the knowledge of his absence seemed to deepen within her." The tension builds steadily as the morose and unpopular detective Antione Stuart begins his investigation. Like many of the characters he has lost his way, beset by the past, unequal to the future: "He would encounter memories like little pebbles in his shoes and he would have to stop and wearily bend down and retrieve the pebble and throw it away." Stuart believes Coco Santini, an island crime lord, to be responsible for the kidnapping and much of the other corruption that is part of the island's sub-culture. Lucy Wadham controls everything beautifully, giving the characters emotional resonance as the intricacies of the plot are worked through. It is a striking literary thriller, where the ache of love and loss and belonging are as important as the power play. --Eithne Farry
--This text refers to an alternate
"'This excellent debut novel hints at the skill of past masters of the thriller genre such as Chandler and Leonard, both in its text and its texture.' The Times"