In his increasingly curmudgeonly later years, Kingsley Amis claimed only to favour novels that began: “A shot rang out.” The opening of Korean author Un-su Kim’s The Plotters has the potential to satisfy that boozy reactionary of English letters, as a hired gun lines up his prey in the telescopic sights of a sniper’s rifle. But there’s a deadly hesitation and we soon realise that poor old Kingsley would be frustrated.

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