What Was Lost
Henry Holt and Company
In the 1980s, Kate Meaney—“Top Secret” notebook and toy monkey in tow—is hard at work as a junior detective. Busy trailing “suspects” and carefully observing everything around her at the newly opened Green Oaks shopping mall, she forms an unlikely friendship with Adrian, the son of a local shopkeeper. But when this curious, independent-spirited young girl disappears, Adrian falls under suspicion and is hounded out of his home by the press.
Then, in 2003, Adrian’s sister Lisa—stuck in a dead-end relationship—is working as a manager at Your Music, a discount record store. Every day she tears her hair out at the outrageous behavior of her customers and colleagues. But along with a security guard, Kurt, she becomes entranced by the little girl glimpsed on the mall’s surveillance cameras. As their after-hours friendship intensifies, Lisa and Kurt investigate how these sightings might be connected to the unsettling history of Green Oaks itself. Written with warmth and wit, What Was Lost is a haunting debut from an incredible new talent.
Inspired by a blog post by Margot Kinberg – Confessions of a Mystery Novelist: http://margotkinberg.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/in-the-spotlight-catherine-oflynns-what-was-lost/ I sought out “What Was Lost” and what a remarkable read this little book turned out to be.
O’Flynn does a magnificent job of capturing the essence and voice of ten year old Kate Meaney – her small life; her home, her school, the people around her and her big ambition to become a junior detective and then that voice stops suddenly and we are transported twenty years on, Kate has disappeared or has she? There is a mystery here to be resolved.
What struck me most about this book was the author’s ability to convey a profound sense of loss: loss of identity, loss of life, loss of innocence, and the loss of Kate…Kate has such a profound effect on the people around her – at the start of the narrative and even twenty years on. There was closure here but that all pervading scent of loss lingers long after you finish reading this book…such sorrow, such a small life had such a huge impact…it is hard to imagine how many lives Kate would influence. You must read this book yourself to appreciate the authors special skills – her social commentary, her depiction of life in the ‘80s in small town America; the birth of the “mall and takeaway culture” we now normalise, O’Flynn’s views are insightful and I think ahead of her time. O’Flynn captures the essence of the small community – the good and the bad, her characters come alive in her settings. A great read.