Accidental hero

<strong>The Accident Man</strong>

Tom Cain <em>Bantam Press, 416pp, £12.99</em>

I know who killed Princess Diana. It was Samuel Carver – in the underpass, with a glowstick.

International hitman Carver decides to carry out one last job before retiring. Unfortunately, he is tricked into assassinating the world’s most photographed woman. He has little time to brood over his mistake, as the shadowy consortium behind the mission is determined to kill him. The former Royal Marine must go on the run, determined to track down those responsible for the death of the people’s princess.

The Accident Man is a thriller aimed at the Lee Child action-hero market, but with a dash of conspiracy theory. All the genre standards are present and correct: technology expert sidekick; a femme fatale with a penchant for disrobing; and firm but fair British spies. Carver is remarkably stupid, and stumbles blindly into life-or-death situations.

The premise, ludicrous as it may appear, is very well handled at the beginning. But any originality is soon sacrificed to flashy set pieces. A scattering of mawkish Diana references sits uncomfortably among Russian mafia villains, torture and a steadily mounting body count. Thriller fans will find that this passes the time; Diana fans are advised to avoid.

This article first appeared in the 03 September 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Guns: Where are they all coming from?