After a series of comedy/crime books, ‘Safe House’ is Chris Ewan’s first thriller. The story is mostly set on the Isle of Man where Ewan lives.
Rob Hale is an amateur motorcycle racer who works as a plumber and heater repairman. When he is called to repair the boiler in a remote cottage he finds the residents a bit strange, but quickly makes friends with Lena and agrees to take her on a motorcycle tour the next day.
Shortly after leaving the cottage, Rob and Lena are involved in an accident. When Rob regains consciousness in hospital, he immediately asks about Lena, but no-one has ever heard of her. Rob’s sister Laura recently committed suicide and many think that Rob is unstable and has invented Lena.
When Rob returns home he finds that his parents have hired a London investigator to look into Laura’s death. Rebecca believes Rob’s story about Lena and helps him in his search.
The story is fairly action packed from this point as three different groups start hunting for Lena or something that she may have left behind. There are some pretty nasty characters and lots of people end up hurt. It is never very clear who are the goodies and baddies and who is working for who. There is a lot of complexity under the surface of the simple life that Rob thought his family was leading.
I loved the setting of this novel but didn’t get enough of a sense of the place – except for its smallness and the fact that groups of gun toting strangers with severe injuries would probably stand out.
I never really warmed to the main characters in the story. Rob didn’t exude a lot of personality, Lena was a bit of a selfish princess and Rebecca was a machine. Some of the bad guys were pretty scary but they were a lot less invincible than trained bad guys normally appear to be. My favourite character in the story was Rob’s grandfather.
I was a bit disappointed with the ending – It wasn’t what I expected.
This wasn’t the best novel I’ve read lately, but it was enough to tempt me to read more of Chris Ewan’s novels.
Book Published 2012