Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Was Lost

This novel, my fifth for the Whodunit challenge, blew me away. I'd gush, but no amount of rhapsodizing would be commensurate.

It starts off innocuously enough. Kate Meaney, 10-year old aspiring private investigator, is on a bus performing surveillance on her fellow commuters, judiciously jotting down character analyses and her theories in a small notebook. She lives with her father who encourages her dream of becoming a detective; sits beside the naughtiest girl in class, Teresa Stanton, in Junior Three; considers 22-year old Adrian from the sweetshop next door as her best friend; and has a stuffed monkey in spats who plays Miles Archer to her Sam Spade. It is 1984 and nothing exciting seems to be happening in Green Oaks--- until she vanishes without a trace.

It's a mystery unlike any other, better than most of what I've come across in this genre, and more. It's about loss and its many forms, about how different people cope with or are made smaller and weaker by it, and about how friendship trumps it, as well as most other things.

The writing is fluid and uninflected, expertly setting the joyless tone for the entire novel, but far from rendering it monotonous. The suspense is built at a calculated pace until it consumes. There is humor, if one cares to look, but it is dark and sad. The mystery is resolved in the end but, though there is closure, one is left hanging, wanting more.


Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

Hi! I think you may have forgot to mention who the author is? I'd like to find this in our library - sounds like a really interesting novel. Is it part of a series?

mental wayfarer said...

Hi, Myra! The author is Catherine O'Flynn, and i think this is her first novel. I'm not sure if this is going to be part of a series. I hope not. It's just so beautiful already...