Nancy Corbett


What Was Lost

by Catherine O’Flynn

Catherine O’Flynn’s debut novel, What Was Lost, begins in 1984 with ten-year-old Kate Meany and her partner, Mickey. Mickey, despite being a stuffed monkey, helps Kate in the surveillance of various suspects under investigation by Falcon Investigations. O’Flynn creates a rich imaginary world of this lonely child and contrasts it with the raw edges of her real world. Already motherless, Kate’s father dies, leaving her to a grandmother who wants to ship her off to a boarding school. Kate’s only friends are a deviant classmate named Teresa and a 22-year old shop vendor named Adrian. And, of course, Mickey.

Just when the story of Kate and Mickey and Falcon Investigations settle into an interesting combination of events, the story shifts to the year 2003. The shift is jolting and, at first, inexplicable, as none of these new characters seem to connect with what has gone before. Slowly, we learn that these are employees of the Green Oaks Shopping Center, which was partially built back when Kate Meany’s tale was in the making. The lives of the mall employees are banal and essentially uneventful. In between rounds with the security guards and visits with Lisa, a music store clerk, we discover that Kate Meany disappeared back in 1984 and no one has ever uncovered what happened to her. Clues from the past catch the light and reveal fragments of Kate’s story. As the events begin to fit together, the characters find that this missing child has served to form unbreakable bonds between them.

"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams..." Arthur O'Shaughnessy


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