Planet Online

Helle Michelsen reviews
Secret Shelter by Rob Gittins
and Tra Bo Dwy by Gwen Parrott

Secret Shelter

Y Lolfa, £8.95

Rob Gittins’ thriller Secret Shelter is set in the world of surveillance and policing, a fractured hyper-country held together by motorways and airports. Though the action unfolds mainly in Cardiff and London, the reader gets little impression of place: the two cities are characterised by their tourist landmarks, brief references to Canary Wharf and Cardiff Bay serving more as establishing shots than as significant context. Cardiff often loses even the slight grittiness of its name to its smoother identity as ‘the Welsh capital’. The characters have anonymous Anglo-American names such as Ros, Kim, and Aaron, and express themselves in colloquial clichés. This pervasive blandness turns out to be justified since the lives of most of the characters are fictions dreamed up by the Security Services’ witness protection scheme. Their blandness can be thus ascribed to the limited imagination of institutionalised man, or to the nightmare ‘normality’ the witnesses must blend into.

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