2010: 89. What Was Lost

“Crime was out there.  Undetected, unseen.”

What Was Lost, Catherine O’Flynn

       I added this book to my Amazon wish list a long time ago, based on some recommendation (perhaps Entertainment Weekly?), and bought when I bought a bunch of books before Pete was born, thinking I’d be doing late night reading, while feeding the baby.*  And I read it, and enjoyed it well enough, I guess.  But when it came to blogging I had this total “meh” reaction, and have put off writing about it for a while now.  Just a general sense that I don’t have much to say about What Was Lost.  Dunno why. 

          Anyway, to soldier on, the book is a mystery, though I think its the kind that gets shelved with the literary fiction, not the mysteries (and who gets to make that decision, anyway?).  It opens great - it’s 1984 we are following around a young girl, Kate Meaney, as she (and her stuffed monkey) wander the brand new neighborhood shopping center try to solve local crimes, to the extent that a lonely ten year old can solve (or understand) local crime.  I loved this part - I loved Kate - she was believably a precious lonely child, but was also a hoot to read about.  I would have read a whole book about Kate and loved it.  But the (SPOILER, I guess, but it’s on the back of the book), the plot shifts to the present day, where two disaffected current employees at the shopping center both stumble onto some clues in the long unsolved mystery of Kate’s disappearance twenty-five years before.  And that part is good, too, in that it’s well written and believable - it’s not a cozy mystery with easy narrative and amazing coincidences, it’s about two real people in dead-end jobs who happen to brush up against something really horrible - the unsolved disappearance of a young girl.  Which is a totally sad and depressing subject for a book, especially when it’s done so darned realistically (and when you just spent all this time getting smitten with the victim).  And, ok, now that I’ve written out this review, I realize why I’ve been putting off writing about this book.  It’s a really well done book - both the fun first part, and the sad second part. But because it’s well done, it’s too real to be enjoyable. I appreciate what O’Flynn did, but it was clear there wasn’t going to be a happy ending, and I was too fond of Kate to be ok with that.


Categories:  Fiction

*Not knowing that with the second baby you roll over and feed him while you sleep because you are just. so. tired., and much less neurotic.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017