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The Lost Ones: A Novel Hardcover – July 25, 2017
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“Utterly compelling, rich with voice and psychological insight, populated with
heartbreakingly real characters, The Lost Ones will stay with you for a long, long time after you finish the last page. Perhaps forever.” (Jeffery Deaver)
“A brave, unflinching heroine and brave, unflinching writing add up to an extraordinary debut—highly recommended.” (Lee Child)
“Suspenseful, atmospheric and often deeply moving, The Lost Ones features one of the most complicated and fascinating protagonists I’ve come across in a long time. I’d follow Nora Watts (and her dog, Whisper) anywhere.” (Alison Gaylin, USA Today bestselling author)
“Sheena Kamal is being hailed . . . as the next Gillian Flynn.” (Irish Independent)
“[A] searing debut...Though comparisons to Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander are inevitable, Nora blazes her own shining trail. A gritty, violent read with a tough, idiosyncratic, dryly witty heroine readers will root for even if they wouldn’t want to invite her home.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“An intriguing twist on the standard missing-person thriller, Kamal’s debut is raw, violent, and thought provoking. An author to watch!” (Library Journal)
From the Back Cover
She Won’t Stop Until the Truth is Found . . .
A DARK, COMPULSIVELY READABLE PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE DEBUT, THE FIRST IN A NEW SERIES FEATURING NORA WATTS—A CHARACTER HEARTBREAKINGLY TROUBLED, EMOTIONALLY COMPLEX, AND IRRESISTIBLY COMPELLING.
The call comes in just after five in the morning. . . .
“I’ve never heard the name Everett Walsh before, but according to him I may know something about a missing girl. He does not tell me what, though. I consider not meeting him but he sounds desperate and if there’s one thing that draws me more than persistence, it’s desperation. Even though finding people is part of what I do for a living, what would I possibly know about a missing girl to warrant a call at this hour?”
It begins with a phone call that Nora Watts has dreaded for fifteen years—since the day she gave up her newborn daughter for adoption. Bonnie has vanished. The police consider her a chronic runaway and aren’t looking for her, leaving her desperate adoptive parents to reach out to her birth mother as a last hope.
A biracial product of the foster system, transient, homeless, scarred by a past filled with pain and violence, and cursed with unnervingly dark eyes that absorb the light around them—and can pierce deep into a person’s soul—Nora knows intimately what happens to vulnerable girls on the streets. Caring despite herself, she sets out to find Bonnie with her mutt, Whisper, as her only companion. While she risks reopening wounds that have never really healed, she plunges into the darkness with little to protect her but her instincts and a freakish ability to detect truth from lies.
The search uncovers a puzzling conspiracy that leads Nora on a harrowing journey of deception and violence, from the gloomy rain-soaked streets of Vancouver to the icy white mountains of the Canadian interior, to the beautiful and dangerous island where she will face her most terrifying demon. All to save a girl she wished had never been born.
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Nora gets a phone call early one morning about a missing girl - a girl who turns out to be Nora's daughter, given up for adoption 15 years ago. She sets out to find the her. Nora is a human BS detector, she claims, and along with her dog, Whisper (who is imbued with very human-like qualities), she intends to figure out just what is going on. But Nora has her own secrets, faults and issues, and they get in the way - and sometimes help - Nora.
The book is bleak at times, and it gets a little slow for a bit, but the narrative is carried by the complex and flawed Nora. She is both like-able and hate-able enough that you feel compelled to find out what happens next. The narrative itself has been done before, but Kamal's gift for mood propels the reader through the story. 3.5 stars.
"It begins with a phone call that Nora Watts has dreaded for fifteen years—since the day she gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. Bonnie has vanished. The police consider her a chronic runaway and aren’t looking, leaving her desperate adoptive parents to reach out to her birth mother as a last hope.
A biracial product of the foster system, transient, homeless, scarred by a past filled with pain and violence, Nora knows intimately what happens to vulnerable girls on the streets. Caring despite herself, she sets out to find Bonnie with her only companion, her mutt Whisper, knowing she risks reopening wounds that have never really healed—and plunging into the darkness with little to protect her but her instincts and a freakish ability to detect truth from lies.
The search uncovers a puzzling conspiracy that leads Nora on a harrowing journey of deception and violence, from the gloomy rain-soaked streets of Vancouver, to the icy white mountains of the Canadian interior, to the beautiful and dangerous island where she will face her most terrifying demon. All to save a girl she wishes had never been born."
I've got to say that I'm a streak with reading some really great books lately. This book was a brilliant beginning to a new mystery series - I need more books just like this! I was intrigued by this book just from reading the above summary which meant that I couldn't resist the chance of reading it. The idea of the birth mother being drawn into the search of the missing daughter that she's never met (or wanted to even)....how can you resist a premise like that? I just knew that this was going to be a good read but what I didn't expect was how dark of a read that this was going to be. Nora is not your typical leading female detective in a mystery novel. She isn't even really a detective but instead works for a lawyer and businessman as an almost human lie detector. She has all of these issues relating to her past, doesn't have any normal relationships, and is a recovering alcoholic. She is basically kind of a mess but I loved her! Even when she was making crappy decisions I was rooting for her. I wanted to know more about what had happened to her even though there were enough clues that I could guess. She just was one of those main characters that really stood out for me, and I'm looking forwarding to reading more books featuring her. I also really enjoyed the mystery portion of this book. I found myself reading this one for long periods of time which hasn't happened all too often lately. It was a page turner and one of the things that kept me reading way too late into the night was just trying to see what trouble Nora was going to get herself into next. And then I kept reading to see if she would get out of it of course. Ha! I loved that this book was set in Canada which is a place I've never had the chance to visit but would like to. I felt like I was really there while reading, and reading about the colder weather made this feel like the perfect fall read (although I read it a bit too early for that). The ending was super intense and left me wanting more.
Overall I have to say that I'm left very excited about this author and this series. This book really stood out for me as it is different from a lot of the mystery series that I've read. I've come to the conclusion that mystery series featuring lone female main characters is kind of my reading catnip. I just can't seem to get enough. This book wasn't any different and Nora is one of those characters that I won't be forgetting about any time soon. I feel like I'm rambling at this point but this book was just that good. I cannot wait to see what other readers think! I would recommend this book mystery fans as well as those readers who enjoy a good thriller. Highly recommended!
Bottom Line: A dark mystery that I just couldn't put down. I need more!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a TLC book tour.
Everything about this debut novel stands out. Set in Vancouver, where only millionaires can afford to live comfortably, its heroine, Nora, isn't pretty, or charming, or appealing. She dresses in a handful of tattered sweaters and jeans with holes in them, and the two men she works for, deploying her eerie ability to tell when someone is lying -- a journalist and a lawyer who share their lives and their work space -- keep urging her to, ahem, try to spend her money on clothes. Nora, a former alcoholic, really doesn't care all that much. In fact, all that she does care about is Whisper, the dog who slunk her way into the basement room in the office building where Nora has created a living space for herself. She's accustomed to being an outsider -- part First Nations (aboriginal) and part who-knows-what, the unsuccessful and lost sister of a thriving environmental activist, she floats on the margins of Vancouver, only just stopping from slipping into the down and out community.
Then one day, the past comes up to meet her in an unwelcome rush, when the adoptive parents of the daughter Nora gave up for adoption about 15 years ago demand to see her. Bronwyn, or Bonnie, is missing -- a possible runaway. But the story seems to become more complicated, when Nora spots costly private security camped outside Bonnie's home, and finds a team from the same firm trying to get hold of her. Then she realizes something even more terrifying: there's a link to the worst moments of her life, moments she can barely remember, that she only just survived, and that doesn't want to relive, ever. But if she can't figure out why her near-death experience is suddenly so crucial now, so many years later, she may not be able to save Bonnie, another outsider like her, from her own trauma.
This was an unputdownable novel, with a heroine who, however self-destructive she could be, I couldn't help rooting for. In some ways, she's another Lisbeth Salander, but more human and understandable. The pacing is excellent, and with the exception of an extraordinary scene in the very final pages, this never turned into one of those "ordinary woman bizarrely turns into indestructible heroine" novels. Nor did the conclusion dress everything up with glitter and fairy dust -- that would have flown in the face of the nature of the story that Kamal had been telling for the previous 300 or so pages, and the characters she had laid out.
While this is still a genre novel, it shows that "genre" doesn't have to be a dirty word; it can be accompanied by solid writing, attention to detail in plotting, carefully balanced construction, a ratcheting up of the tension so that the reader is on edge, and a conclusion that if not perfectly satisfying, feels "right" for the story. I'll be looking out for anything else that Sheena Kamal writes, and perhaps we'll even see more of Nora? I'd like to think so... 4.5 stars, rounded up.
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Sheena Kamal has give us a new protatonist, Nora Watts, who is badly flawed, traumatised, but so very strong.Read more