Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The lost ones by Sheena Kamal

Nora Watts is very good at staying under the radar, a recovering alcoholic who is always one temptation away from falling off the wagon.  Avoiding her past, her memories, and a gaping hole in her memory means that Nora lives very much in the now and keeps everyone at arms length.  The only living thing that spends any real time with her is Whisper, a dog that she rescued from the streets and seems to regard Nora with as a source of food an grudging companionship.  Nora lives life on the edge, her only real contact with people is her work as a researcher for a private ye where she uses her natural lie detecting ability to help solve cases.  Her employer knows she has secrets, but as those secrets have never impacted on her work he has left her those secrets - but secrets can't stay buried forever.

When Nora receives an early morning phone call she doesn't know the caller but he knows about her and the child she gave up for adoption fifteen years earlier.  That phone call starts Nora down a path that will force her to confront her past and her present, something she has been avoiding by deliberately trying to forget.  She may have given birth to Bonnie, but apart from a brief moment in hospital she has never had a relationship with her daughter - though from what her adoptive parents have to say there may be something to the nurture versus nature debate.  When another ghost from her past reappears it becomes clear that there is more to Bonnie's disappearance than a teenage girl looking for her birth mother and if Nora can't untangle her memories, along with the secrets and lies, then she may never come back from facing her past.

The lost ones was a harrowing story with a unique voice that will stay with me for some time.  Nora is an almost perfect anti-hero, tortured by her past and battling her tendency to be an alcoholic.  Facing the case of her missing birth daughter forces her to not only face her past, but also face the truths that she doesn't want to see.  Nora is a product of her past and as the novel proceeds each layer of protection she has built is stripped away, and it is no surprise that she makes some very difficult decisions along the way.  I would challenge anyone to read The lost ones and not come away feeling for Nora and all she has faced in her past, and the inner strength she shows in unexpected ways.  A must read, and it will be interesting to see if Kamal continues to write books in this style as it was interesting and engaging and deserves to be read.

This book was also published in the United Kingdom under the title Eyes like mine.

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Reviewed by Brilla

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