The Cornish village of St. Petroc is the sort of place where people come to hide. Tom Killgannon is one such person. An ex–undercover cop, Tom is in the Witness Protection Program hiding from some very violent people, and St. Petroc’s offers him a chance to live a safe and quiet life.
Until he meets Lila. Lila is a seventeen-year-old runaway. When she breaks into Tom’s house, she takes more than just his money. His wallet holds everything about his new identity. He also knows that Lila is in danger from the travelers’ commune she has been living at. Something sinister has been going on there, and Lila knows more than she realizes. But to find her, he risks not only giving away his location to the gangs he’s in hiding from but also becoming a target for whoever is hunting Lila.
Tom Killgannon, the hero of this uneven gothic mystery from Waites (The Woman in Black: Angel of Death), has settled in St. Petroc, Cornwall, to try to shed a former life he led in another part of England. One stormy day, a troubled, frightened teenager, Lila, takes refuge in his house she's a runaway, hooked up with a community of surfers living in campers on a local beach. Despite Tom's efforts to help her, she sneaks away with his coat containing his passport and ID proof of his new identity that Tom is desperate to get back. The search for Lila takes Tom into the heart of a disturbing plan on the part of a man called Crow to restore St. Petroc to its former glory, using the old religion of the title, a kind of druidic paganism that Crow has convinced the town's seemingly reasonable residents is the key to future prosperity. Set in a gray, forbidding landscape, this grim novel offers a vision of what rural England could become after the U.K. leaves the E.U. Unfortunately, neither Waites's prose nor storytelling does justice to the potential of its harrowing premise.