What Was Lost, by Catherine O'Flynn

Kate Meaney, who lives with her widowed father, is a learning to be a detective; with her father she's scrutinised the How To Be A Detective book, and together they try to guess the reasons for the behaviour of the people that Kate has covertly watched during her way to and from school, or when she's been out shopping.

The book moves forwards and backwards in time a bit, and while the first part of the book focuses on Kate and her father, other sections are told from different points of view. There's a quote on the cover from Jonathan Coe, who likes it, and the structure reminded me a bit of House of Sleep, in which there are sections whose relevance to the main story you can't initially see. In fact, I don't think it's quite as clever as Coe, but it was quite intriguing wondering how things would work out.

Kate is a very endearing character, and I certainly felt a sense of attachment to her through the book. You felt like you wanted to look after her, and protect her from the world. Some of the other characters were really good too: Lisa in the record shop, remembering her youth "When you're that age I think music can penetrate you more than it ever does again...I don't think I'll ever feel as focused, or as engaged in anything as I did when we used to go and see bands. I seem to have lost all that now and I miss it. Now I work twelve-hour days and my brain is broken and I don't seem to hear music at all.". And Kurt, the security guard.

I didn't get the same tingle at the end as with some of Coe's work, but Kate's character has stayed with me. I think this is her first novel, and it's a promising one.

Completed : 03-Jul-2008

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