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Lost Boy, Lost Girl: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – September 28, 2004

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More from Peter Straub
Peter Straub is one of the horror genre's most literate and endlessly inventive writers. Visit Amazon's Peter Straub Page.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (September 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449149919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449149911
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #954,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For its high artistry and uncanny mix of dread and hope, Straub's 16th novel, his shortest in decades, reaffirms the author's standing as the most literate and, with his occasional coauthor Stephen King, most persuasive of contemporary novelists of the dark fantastic. This brilliant variation on the haunted house tale distills themes and characters from Straub's long career, including two of the author's most popular creations: Manhattan novelist Tim Underhill (from Koko, Mystery and The Throat) and Tim's friend, legendary private detective Tom Pasmore (from Mystery and The Throat). Written from multiple viewpoints, the narrative shuttles disturbingly through time and space as Tim travels home to Millhaven, Ill., to attend the funeral for his sister-in-law, a suicide. In that small city based loosely on Straub's hometown of Milwaukee, Tim spends time with his callow widowed brother, Philip, and his nephew, sensitive Mark, 15, who found his mother's naked body in the bathtub, wrists slit and a plastic bag over her head. Meanwhile, a serial killer is snatching teen boys from a local park, and Mark and his sidekick, Jimbo, begin to explore a nearby abandoned house. Mark grows obsessed with the house, eventually revealed as the rotting source of the evil that stalks Millhaven, but also as the harbor of a great marvel. When Mark disappears, Tim pursues his trail and, with Tom Pasmore's help, that of the serial killer who may have taken the boy away. Straub remains a master of place and character; his insight into teens, in particular, is astonishingly astute. His myriad narrative framings allow multiple interpretations of events, making this story work on many levels, yet they also increase the urgency of the story, up to its incandescent ending. With great compassion and in prose as supple as mink, Straub has created an exciting, fearful, wondrous tale about people who matter, in one of his finest books to date.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Once more, Straub employs the scene (Millhaven, Illinois) and the protagonists--'nam-vet novelist Tim Underhill and rich, super-attentive and -intuitive P.I. Tom Pasmore--of his hefty best-sellers Koko (1988), Mystery (1989), and The Throat (1993). Relegating Pasmore to the secondary cast and using Tim as both first-person recorder of events and third-person general narrator, Straub explores two appalling tragedies. Tim's sister-in-law, Nancy, an appealing woman whom many pity for marrying ill-tempered Philip Underhill, kills herself for no apparent reason. Mere days later, Philip and Nancy's handsome 15-year-old, Mark, disappears. Since a serial killer has been "disappearing" middle-teen boys from the park in which Mark and his best friend, Jimbo, hung out nights, the worst is feared. With Pasmore working behind the scenes, Tim sets out to understand his two losses. Mostly, he must get Jimbo to reveal all that he knows. As he succeeds with the boy, Tim discovers that in the abandoned house across the alley from Philip and Nancy's are the keys to the puzzles of her death, Mark's vanishing, and other mysteries. Much of what Tim learns is hideous, but some of it points to transcendent redemption for Mark and a girl who disappeared long ago in even grislier circumstances. This is the great novel of the supernatural Straub has always had it in him to write, one as beautiful, moving, and spiritually rich as the best stories in his dazzling collections Houses without Doors (1990) and Magic Terror (2000). Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

I've just finished the book and I'm tempted to start it again.
Sebastien Pharand
This masterfully crafted work is one of the best books I have read in years, and I am in awe of Peter Straub.
Jeff Pages
Towards the end the twist was weak, uninteresting and didn't seem to relate well to the story whatsoever.
Sandra E. Soroka

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Phillip Underhill doesn't have a clue what is going on in his own home. His wife Nancy, usually a cheerful person, is getting more withdrawn by the day and the only one who notices it is their son Mark. Phillip doesn't realize that she is remembering a time when her cousin by marriage asked for help for her and her daughter and she refused to give it. When Mark isn't worrying about his mother, he is obsessing about the house on 3323 North Michigan Street.
His mother warns him to stay away from the house but neglects to tell him that once was owned by her cousin, a notorious serial killer. When Mark breaks into the house she senses it and commits suicide. Mark explores the house finding secret rooms, tunnels and staircases. He also senses the presence of someone in the house and tells his best friend before he disappears. The police think he's the victim of a serial killer but Mark's uncle Tim believes that he met with a different fate.
From the very beginning LOST BOY LOST GIRL has an eerie gothic atmosphere and as the plot moves forward the tale becomes even spookier. There are two parallel sub-plots involving a serial killer and a ghost that never intersect, leaving readers to ponder Mark's fate throughout the novel. Timothy Underhill, who also appeared in KOKO AND THE THROAT, plays a vital role in this horror thriller. He is the one who puts together Mark's actions during his last days and comes to a conclusion that is emotionally satisfying his belief system. Peter Straub continues to write great horror novels that engage his myriad of fans.
Harriet Klausner
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jana L. Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 19, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Tim Underhill, a novelist living in Manhattan, receives word that his sister-in-law has suddenly committed suicide, with no apparent warning. He returns to his Midwestern hometown of Milhaven to be with his morose, callow brother Philip, and Mark, his fifteen year-old nephew. Shortly after Underhill's arrival, Mark disappears. Underhill is desperate to find the boy, especially when he learns that a brutal pedophilic murderer is on the loose in the vicinity. Tim's asks his friend Tom Pasmore, one of the best PIs around, for assistance in discovering Mark's whereabouts and the identity of the serial killer.

Teenage skateboarder Mark Underhill had become obsessed by a mysterious abandoned house where the killer may have taken refuge. Unbeknownst to Mark, the house, which he had never noticed before, has strong ties to the Underhill family. He and his best buddy, Jimbo, eventually break in to explore, and to unravel the mysteries of this customized building, with its secret passageways and hidden hollows. Mark finds that the house almost talks to him - whispers to him of the horrors that have taken place under its roof. And in this evil place, Mark discovers a soul mate, a ghostly girl who beckons him, coaxing him deeper into the darkness.

"Lost Boy Lost Girl: A Novel" is both a disturbing mystery and a ghost story. It is not a traditional ghost story, however, but a tale of what happens when one believes in ghosts. This is also a novel about hauntings, sinister, filled with remorse and dread. Peter Straub touches on more traditional themes also, like dysfunctional families, the transition from adolescence to adulthood, and the onset of middle age.

The tale is told from multiple viewpoints, and moves back and forth through time and space.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on October 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
LOST BOY LOST GIRL is a novel that I fear is going to be lost, if not ignored, in the plethora of releases that greet the autumn season. This would be tragic, though not entirely without reason. Peter Straub attracted major audiences with novels such as GHOST STORY, SHADOWLAND and FLOATING DRAGON. He even co-wrote THE TALISMAN with Stephen King. Then, for some reason, his audience ... dwindled. Maybe it is due to the perception --- an erroneous one --- that Straub was not writing Peter Straub novels anymore. In fact, he was --- and is. But apart from a second collaboration with King on BLACK HOUSE, which is both a sequel of sorts to THE TALISMAN and a companion volume to King's DARK TOWER series, Straub has not been heard from recently. And greater is the pity that few, it seems, have noticed.
This is disappointing, because LOST BOY LOST GIRL is a novel that succeeds on so many (occasionally) contradictory levels that it has the potential to quietly become a classic over time. It may well be one of those novels that "bubbles under" saleswise, never really breaking into the all-important "charts" yet sailing along for years and years without ever going out of print. In this age of categorization, it is difficult to comfortably place LOST BOY LOST GIRL. It is, possibly, a ghost story, or a romance, or a mystery, or a thriller, even a domestic novel. Certainly it touches all of those genres and perhaps others. It is so enigmatic a novel that one almost overlooks how beautifully, wonderfully and fearfully told it is.
Much of LOST BOY LOST GIRL is told from the viewpoint of Timothy Underhill, a writer of some renown who leaves his home in New York City and returns to his hometown of Millhaven.
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More About the Author

Peter Straub is the author of seventeen novels, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. They include Ghost Story, Koko, Mr. X, In the Night Room, and two collaborations with Stephen King, The Talisman and Black House. He has written two volumes of poetry and two collections of short fiction, and he edited the Library of America's edition of H. P. Lovecraft's Tales and the forthcoming Library of America's 2-volume anthology, American Fantastic Tales. He has won the British Fantasy Award, eight Bram Stoker Awards, two International Horror Guild Awards, and three World Fantasy Awards. In 1998, he was named Grand Master at the World Horror Convention. In 2006, he was given the HWA's Life Achievement Award. In 2008, he was given the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award by Poets & Writers. At the World Fantasy Convention in 2010, he was given the WFC's Life Achievement Award.

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Lost Boy, Lost Girl: A Novel
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