Amoral characters performing lethal actions can be exhilarating — as in Howard Linskey’s debut novel The Drop (2011), a classic British gangster tale. Journalists and policemen rather than criminals are at the centre of his latest novel but Linskey has not lost his sting.

No Name Lane is lacerating fare, beginning with a killer at his macabre work. Disgraced reporter Tom Carney returns to the northeast, where he encounters Helen Norton doing his old job on the local paper. Along with beleaguered policeman Ian Bradshaw, the duo look into the disappearances of some local girls. The first body to be found, however, is a decades-old corpse.

Does a murder from the past have a connection with an implacable monster of the present day? No Name Lane clocks in at nearly 500 pages, but never falters.

No Name Lane, by Howard Linskey, Penguin, RRP£7.99, 487 pages

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