Britain in 2053 is overcrowded and crime-ridden, seared by climate change and straining at the seams. Through this blighted landscape goes a man referred to only as “the father”, searching for his young daughter who was abducted two years earlier. Aided by a mysterious authority figure whom he calls Scarlett Johansson (her voice reminds him of the actress’s), he cuts a bloody swath through a series of sex offenders, interrogating, punishing, killing. Each victim takes him one step closer to the truth, which revolves around an apocalyptic cult known as King Death, and at the same time one step closer to losing his mind.
Nevill ornaments his tale of brutality and bloodshed with florid Gothic prose, like flock wallpaper gracing a torture dungeon. There’s acute psychological insight amid Lost Girl’s squalid inferno, and the author’s vision of our near future is horribly plausible.
Lost Girl, by Adam Nevill, Pan, RRP£7.99, 448 pages