Ten year old Kate Meaney has become a master of invisibility. As a junior detective, she has learned this is one of the most valuable skills she has. She spends as much of her time as possible surveilling the Green Oaks shopping center, honing her detective’s skills with her trustee assistant Mickey, a stuffed spats-wearing monkey. Her invisibilty becomes a problem, though, when she goes missing, and 22-year-old Adrian, a local shopkeeper’s son and Kate’s friend, is the prime suspect. Twenty years later, Adrian’s younger sister Lisa is employed at Green Oaks and strikes up a friendship with security guard Kurt. When Lisa discovers a stuffed monkey in the pipes along one of the service corridors, the circumstances of Kate’s disappearance again come to the forefront and reopens old wounds.
I picked up What Was Lost on a whim in early December, after seeing reviews for Catherine O’Flynn’s The News Where You Are, and decided to make it my first book of 2011. It was a good, solid story, and O’Flynn is very talented at evoking images. In her description of Mickey the toy monkey, I could imagine this small stuffed monkey dressed in a dapper suit and spats. Likewise, I had a lot of fun imagining the Green Oaks shopping center and its’ maze of service corridors (though they looked an awful lot like the service corridors in the mall I worked at for 18 months).
I absolutely loved O’Flynn’s depiction of Kate. It was so easy to be drawn to this imaginative little girl who was hurting for friends and eager to do something to make a difference in a world that hadn’t necessarily dealt her a fair hand. I wished more of the novel had been set around Kate. Lisa and Kurt were interesting and sympathetic, but their cynicism and more adult concerns ultimately were a bit draining.
Overall, I am really glad I chose to make this my first book of 2011, and I’d definitely recommend it.