For a novel dealing with quite timely issues – drug smuggling, coups d’état and illegal immigration – Lost Children is surprisingly nostalgic. Christopher Hart draws us into the tradition-steeped patterns of life in rural, poverty-stricken Chilitenango (on the El Salvador–Honduras border, though Hart doesn’t much care for lines on a map), where, were it not for the occasional reference to phones and the local Jesus Christ Is My Saviour internet cafe, we’d have few clues as to what century we were in, let alone what decade.
The effect is disconcerting: with no sense of time and not much sense of place, we are, like the four British volunteers on whom the novel focuses, dropped into an untamable Central America, where anything can and does happen. Hart looks back to
Central America’s missed opportunities, such as the moment