Title: The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
A dark, compulsively readable psychological suspense debut, the first in a new series featuring the brilliant, fearless, chaotic, and deeply flawed Nora Watts—a character as heartbreakingly troubled, emotionally complex, and irresistibly compelling as Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander and Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole.
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.
The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal is a rather gritty but surprisingly humorous mystery about recovering alcoholic and somewhat troubled Nora Watts’ efforts to locate missing Vancouver teenager Bonnie Walsh.
With an uncanny ability to tell when someone is lying, Nora’s job as a research assistant and receptionist for a journalist and private investigator is the perfect fit for her. She initially believes Everett Walsh is reaching out to her for assistance in locating fifteen year old Bonnie due to her employer. Needless to say, she is shocked when Lynn Walsh blurts out the truth-Bonnie is the daughter Nora gave up for adoption immediately after giving birth. Her first instinct is to refuse their request, but given her firsthand experience as someone who has been easily overlooked due to her heritage and bad decisions, she knows all too well that the police will not take the Walsh’s concern seriously. The discovery that someone has the Walsh home under surveillance is Nora’s first inkling that Bonnie’s disappearance might be more than just a troubled teenager running away from an unhappy home. She is also very concerned when someone from her own dark past starts immediately tries to make contact with her. Not knowing whom to trust, Nora continues investigating Bonnie’s disappearance but it soon becomes quite clear that someone is willing to go to any lengths to ensure that she does not locate the missing teenager.
Nora survived an incredibly violent and horrific ordeal and her scars run deep. A rough around the edges loner with trust issues, she does not like being in the limelight and she is most comfortable in the underbelly of society. She is long estranged from her sister Lorelei who does not temper her contempt for Nora or the mistakes she has made. Nora’s sobriety is hard won but the temptation to blunt her emotions is a daily battle that she wins only because of her beloved canine companion, Whisper. When Nora hits a brick wall in her investigation, she turns to her former AA sponsor and police detective Jon Brazura for assistance but she has plenty of misgivings about trusting him.
The Lost Ones is a dark mystery with an engaging and unpredictable storyline that is quite compelling. Despite her gruff exterior and dubious choices, Nora is a surprisingly sympathetic protagonist that is very easy to root for. Her investigation into Bonnie’s disappearance takes some very unexpected twists and turns and Sheena Kamal brings the novel to an adrenaline filled, nail biting conclusion. A stunning debut fans of the genre are going to thoroughly enjoy.