For all its very English concerns – rural life, weather, tight lips – Edward Hogan’s taut second novel, The Hunger Trace, stakes out a territory of high emotion. Maggie Bryant lives with her stepson, the Robin Hood-obsessed, mentally ill Christopher, on Drum Hill, Derbyshire, in a wildlife park full of ibex, lynx and other non-native animals. Maggie has taken on the park in place of, and perhaps to hold on to, her dead husband, David. Their nearest neighbour is large, lonely falconer Louisa, who was in love with David from adolescence.
The full weight of the relationship between Louisa and David becomes gradually apparent. A teenage romance – stronger, perhaps, on her part than his – compelled her to hide a dreadful accident by lying to the police to protect David. His sense of debt to her and his