Rated of 5
Well-written debut novel
What was Lost is a very non-standard mystery novel. It’s truly a story in two parts. The first half is a light, enjoyable tale from child’s perspective, reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It’s very well-written, with O’Flynn capturing Kate’s thoughts and actions with dead-on accuracy.
The second half of the novel occurs twenty or so years later, but it’s really not about Kate’s disappearance. The mystery is an excuse for O’Flynn to create detailed character studies of lost, lonely, damaged individuals. This part of the book is also well-written and insightful, but in a completely different way than its first half. In my opinion, this part of the book was far superior to the initial section about Kate; perhaps not as entertaining on some levels, but definitely containing more depth.
My only criticism is that the novel wraps up too neatly. Life is seldom so tidy.
I’m sure that because of the very mixed nature of this novel, its reader reviews will be all over the place. Those looking for a standard mystery should probably pass on this one, as they’re likely to be disappointed. The mystery itself just isn’t that compelling. Those in search of marvelous writing, however, need look no further.