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1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

What Was Lost

by

What Was Lost Cover

ISBN13: 9780805088335
ISBN10: 0805088334
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

Chapter One

Crime was out there. Undetected, unseen. She hoped she wouldnt be too late. The bus driver was keeping the bus at a steady 15 mph, braking at every approaching green light until it turned red. She closed her eyes and continued the journey in her head as slowly as she could. She opened them, but still the bus lagged far behind her worst projection. Pedestrians overtook them; the driver whistled.

She looked at the other passengers and tried to deduce their activities for the day. Most were pensioners; she counted four instances of the same huge blue-checked shopping bag. She made a note of this occurrence in her pad; she knew better than to believe in coincidences.

She read the adverts on the bus. Most were seeking advertisers: If youre reading this, then so could your customers. She wondered if any of the passengers ever took out advertising space on the bus, and what they would advertise if they did.

Come and enjoy my big blue-checked shopping bag; it is filled with cat food.

I will talk to anyone about anything. I also eat biscuits.

Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, officially recognized brewers of the worlds strongest tea. "We squeeze the bag."

I smell strange, but not unpleasantly.

Kate thought she would like to take out an advert for the agency. The image would be a silhouette of her and Mickey within the lens of a magnifying glass. Below, it would say:

Falcon Investigations

Clues found. Suspects trailed. Crimes detected.

Visit our office equipped with the latest surveillance equipment.

She made another note in her pad of the phone number on the advert, to be rung at some later date when the office was fully operational.

Eventually the bus reached the landscaped lawns and forlorn, fluttering flags of the light-industrial park that surrounded the newly opened Green Oaks Shopping Center. She paid particular attention to Unit 15 on the Langsdale Industrial Estate, where she had once witnessed what seemed to be an argument between two men. One man had a large mustache, the other wore sunglasses and no jacket on what had been a cold day; shed thought they both looked of criminal character. After some deliberation and subsequent sightings of a large white van outside the unit, she had come to the conclusion that the two men were trafficking in diamonds. Today all was quiet at the unit.

She opened her pad at a page with Unit 15 Surveillance written at the top. Next to that days date she wrote, in the slightly jerky bus writing that dominated the page: No sighting. Collecting another shipment from Holland?

Fifteen minutes later, Kate was walking through the processed air of the Market Place of Green Oaks. Market Place wasnt a marketplace. It was the subterranean part of the shopping center, next to the bus terminals, reserved for the inexpensive low-end stores: fancy goods, cheap chemists, fake perfume sellers, stinking butchers, flammable-clothes vendors. Their smells mingled with the smell of burnt dust from the over-door heaters and made her feel sick. This was as far as most of Kates fellow passengers ventured into the center. It was the closest approximation of the tatty old High Street, which had suffered a rapid decline since the center had opened. Now when the bus drove up the High Street, no one liked to look at the reproachful boarded-up doorways filled with fast-food debris and leaves.

She realized it was Wednesday and shed forgotten to buy that weeks copy of the Beano from her usual newsagent. She had no choice but to go to the dingy kiosk in the center to get it. Afterward she stood and looked again at a current True Detective magazine on the shelf. The woman on the front didnt look like a detective. She was wearing a fedora and a raincoat . . . but nothing else. She looked like someone from a Benny Hill sketch. Kate didnt like it.

She rode the escalator up to the ground floor, where the proper shops, fountains, and plastic palms began. It was the school holidays, but too early to be busy. None of her classmates was allowed to go to the center without their parents. Sometimes shed bump into a family group with one of her peers in tow and would exchange awkward greetings. She had picked up a sense that adults tended to be uncomfortable with her solo trips out and about, so now whenever questioned by shop assistant, security guard, or parent she would always imply that an unspecified adult relative was nearby in another store. Largely, though, no one questioned her; in fact, no one ever really seemed to see her at all. Sometimes Kate thought she was invisible.

It was 9:30 a.m. She retrieved her laboriously typewritten agenda from her back pocket:

9:30-10:45 Tandy: research walkie-talkies and microphones

10:45-12:00 General center surveillance

12:00-12:45 Lunch at Vanezis

12:45-1:30 Midland Educational: look at ink pads for fingerprinting

1:30-3:30 Surveillance near banks

3:30 Bus home

Kate hurried on to Tandy.

She was flustered to arrive at Vanezis restaurant a good twenty minutes past noon. This was not the way a professional operated. This was sloppy. She waited by the door to be seated, though she could see her table was still free. The usual lady took her to the usual place and Kate slid into the orange plastic booth, which offered a view out over the main atrium of the center.

"Do you need to see the menu today?" asked the waitress.

"No, thanks. Can I have the Childrens Special please with a banana float? And can I not have any cucumber on the beefburger, please?"

"Its not cucumber, its gherkin, love."

Kate made a note of this in her pad: Gherkins/cucumbers— not same thing: research difference. Shed hate to blow her cover on a stateside mission with a stupid error like that.

Kate looked at the big plastic tomato-shaped ketchup dispenser on her table. It was one of her favorite things; it made total sense.

At school last term, Paul Roberts had read out his essay, "The Best Birthday Ever," which culminated in his grandparents and parents taking him out to Vanezis for dinner. He spoke of eating spaghetti with meatballs, which for some reason he and everyone else in the class had found funny. He was still excited as he rushed through his story of drinking ice-cream floats and ordering a Knickerbocker Glory. He said it was brilliant.

Kate couldnt understand why he didnt just go there himself on a Saturday lunchtime if he liked it so much. She could even take him the first time and tell him the best place to sit. She could show him the little panel on the wall that you could slide back to reveal all the dirty plates passing by on a conveyor belt. She could tell him how one day she hoped to place some kind of auto-shutter-action camera on the belt, which could travel around the entire restaurant taking surveillance shots unseen, before returning to Kate. She could point out the washing-up man who she thought might be murderous, and perhaps Paul could help her stake him out. She could maybe invite him to join the agency (if Mickey approved). But she didnt say anything. She just wondered.

She glanced around to check that no one could see; then she reached into her bag and pulled out Mickey. She sat him next to her by the window, so the waitress wouldnt notice, and where he had a good view of the people below. She was training Mickey up to be her partner in the agency. Generally Mickey just did surveillance work. He was small enough to be unobtrusive despite his rather outlandish getup. Kate liked Mickeys outfit, even though it meant he didnt blend in as well as he might. He wore a pin-striped gangster suit with spats. The spats slightly spoiled the Sam Spade effect, but Kate liked them anyway; in fact she wanted a pair herself.

Mickey had been made from a craft kit called Sew Your Own Charlie Chimp the Gangster, given to Kate by an auntie. Charlie had languished along with all of Kates other soft toys throughout most of her childhood, but when shed started up the detective agency last year she thought he looked the part. The name Charlie Chimp was no good, though. Instead he became Mickey the Monkey. Kate would run through their agenda with him each morning, and he always traveled with her in the canvas army-surplus bag.

The waitress brought the order. Kate ate the burger and perused the first Beano of the new year, while Mickey kept a steady eye on some suspicious teenagers below.

Excerpted from What Was Lost by Catherine OFlynn

Copyright © 2007 by Catherine OFlynn

Published in 2008 by Henry Holt and Company, LLC

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

erika770, August 9, 2012 (view all comments by erika770)
O'Flynn uses a variety of voices -- among a ten year old girl, a disillusioned security guard, a muddled music store manager, a nameless male shopper on the verge of a rage attack -- to great effect. The novel's plot hinges on the mystery of what happened to the young girl twenty years ago, and much of its commentary is on the directionless, empty lives epitomized by the modern shopping mall, but ultimately the story is about the hunger people have to connect, and the many ways that we, with mercy, accomplish those connections.
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Kaitlin, October 29, 2008 (view all comments by Kaitlin)
This book was gripping from beginning to end. I love the writer's vioce, and the last twenty pages picked you up and were possible the most haunting ending I ever read. I absolutely loved this book.
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(9 of 14 readers found this comment helpful)
Booklover in Durham, July 18, 2008 (view all comments by Booklover in Durham)
I read this book in England over the holidays last winter and found myself neglecting the people I was visiting because I just wanted to keep reading!
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(6 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780805088335
Author:
Oflynn, Catherine
Publisher:
Henry Holt & Company
Author:
O'Flynn, Catherine
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Missing persons
Subject:
Teenage girls
Subject:
General
Subject:
FIC043000
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20080631
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.05 x 5.37 x 0.685 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z

What Was Lost Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.50 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Henry Holt & Company - English 9780805088335 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Stirring and beautifully crafted, this debut novel recounts how the repercussions of a girl's disappearance can last for decades. In 1984, Kate Meaney is a 10-year-old loner who solves imaginary mysteries and guesses the dark secrets of the shoppers she observes at the Green Oaks mall. Kate's unlikely circle includes her always-present stuffed monkey; 22-year-old Adrian, who works at the candy shop next door; and Kate's classmate, Teresa Stanton, who hides her intelligence behind disruptive behavior. Kate's grandmother has plans for Kate: send her to boarding school. But Kate doesn't want to go. Fast forward to 2003, where it's revealed through Lisa, Adrian's sister, that Kate disappeared nearly 20 years ago, and Adrian, blamed in her disappearance, also vanished. Lisa works at a record store in Green Oaks and is drawn to Kurt, a security guard whose surveillance-camera sightings of a little girl clutching a stuffed monkey hint that he might have ties to Kate's disappearance. Teresa, meanwhile, now a detective, has her own reasons for being haunted by Kate's disappearance. Gripping to the end, the book is both a chilling mystery and a poignant examination of the effects of loss and loneliness. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,

A tender and sharply observant debut novel about a missing young girl—winner of the Costa First Novel Award and long-listed for the Booker Prize, the Orange Prize, and The Guardian First Book Award

In the 1980s, Kate Meaney—“Top Secret” notebook and toy monkey in tow—is hard at work as a junior detective. Busy trailing “suspects” and carefully observing everything around her at the newly opened Green Oaks shopping mall, she forms an unlikely friendship with Adrian, the son of a local shopkeeper. But when this curious, independent-spirited young girl disappears, Adrian falls under suspicion and is hounded out of his home by the press.

Then, in 2003, Adrians sister Lisa—stuck in a dead-end relationship—is working as a manager at Your Music, a discount record store. Every day she tears her hair out at the outrageous behavior of her customers and colleagues. But along with a security guard, Kurt, she becomes entranced by the little girl glimpsed on the malls surveillance cameras. As their after-hours friendship intensifies, Lisa and Kurt investigate how these sightings might be connected to the unsettling history of Green Oaks itself. Written with warmth and wit, What Was Lost is a haunting debut from an incredible new talent.

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