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What Was Lost

3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,260 Ratings  ·  779 Reviews
In the 1980s, Kate Meaney 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 o ...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published December 13th 2011 by AudioGO (first published January 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 08, 2007 Mary-anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book, I can't wait for Cathering O'Flynn's next novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The opening is so charming and Kate Meaney is such a sweet character. As the first part opens up a bit more, we see that she's actually quite lonely and her situation is sad, but she bravely carries on in her quest to get her detective agency off the ground, even though she's only 10 years old. The details of her agency (buying stationery, researching walkie talkies, staking out the mall, etc ...more
Jun 20, 2011 Mon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-architecture
A few weeks ago, Borders across Sydney had a massive 75-90% off clearance sales. Not expecting anything good, I went into them looking for anything that looked like it would last more than 10 pages before I trash it in the bin and still, somehow, ended up with just 4 books. One of them was Don DeLillo's Underworld, I got it because it was insanely cheap and thick at the same time. The other two were 19th century classics that I planned to use as birthday presents (I know, but hey, I'm sure they ...more
Paul Bryant
Nov 01, 2010 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
There were various important aspects of this book which I frankly did not believe - unhappily, the character (however endearing) of 10 year old Kate is one of them. She wanders around town and occasionally stays out all night with zero adult supervision and is hugely braver and more intent and concentrated than any actual 10 year old. She's pure fantasy, she's not a real kid at all, she's the kind of kid character adults make up and they're so nice it seems rude to point out how fake they are. E ...more
Sofia Mitkova
Oct 29, 2015 Sofia Mitkova rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 15, 2008 Dorian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2 stars would be more accurate. Quick and mostly compelling first novel--written in 3rd person no less! Free indirect dicoruse! Hooray!

One of the three different narrative focalizations--that is, those sections that emphasises the actions and thoughts of a ten-year old would-be detective in 1980s Britain--is more compelling than the other two. Not so much a crime novel as a meditation on crime. The book also has the virtue of being, esp in its first half, laugh out loud funny. The author app
Nov 10, 2008 Stacey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most unique and imaginative books I've read in a long time. It's like Office Space meets Nancy Drew meets Silence of the Lambs meets Lost in Translation. It also reminded me of the Beatles song Eleanor Rigby: "All the lonely people, where do they all come from?"
Sorry for the comparison casserole, but it's a hard book to describe. It starts off following a little girl who imagines herself as a secret detective, then fast-forwards 20 years after her mysterious disappearance and
Jul 15, 2008 Ken rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people looking for a challenging read with a little bit of mystery.
What Was Lost starts out quite strong. In the first section, I could not put it down. As the novel progressed, though, I became less excited, and I felt the ending did not fulfill the promise of the beginning.

What Was Lost follows an ensemble of characters and their relationships to each other and to the Green Oaks Mall in Birmingham, England. The story begins with Kate Meaney, and I could not read enough about her and the world she inhabits and half creates for herself. For reasons I don't want
Nov 13, 2009 Kristina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-in-2009
I just finished reading this book, and have nothing good to say about it. It was extremely dry and boring. The only reason I finished it was because it was for a book club, and it is relatively short. The book was uninteresting, depressing and felt contrived. It spent too much time on mundane details withtin the characters occupations. Also, what the hell were the extra insight from various mall shoppers?

One of the worst books I've read in a long time...
I wanted to love this book, and ultimately found it very funny, fresh, disturbing and original, but the fact that it was so different from what I expected and that I didn't have much in common with the main characters interfered with my positive feelings about it. It was a mystery about a ten year old girl whose disappearance leaves many unanswered questions and repercussions in its wake. The first half follows the activities of little Kate Meany, a self-styled 'detective' who shadows imaginary ...more
Feb 02, 2011 Christie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-reads
Catherine O’Flynn’s debut novel, What Was Lost, is as labyrinthine as the tunnels under the Green Oaks Shopping Centre. Ten year old Kate Meany is an amateur detective, raised (until his sudden death) by an older, single father. In the novel’s opening third, we travel with Kate and her stuffed monkey, Mickey, as they conduct stakeouts, deliberate over office stationary for Kate’s fledgling detective agency, and pal around with Adrian, the 22 year old son of the man who runs the store next to Kat ...more
Feb 26, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, favorites
1984, Birmingham, England. Kate Meaney is the sole proprietor and lead detective for Falcon Investigations (assisted by her top secret assistant Mickey the Monkey, a stuffed animal). If Falcon Investigations had an advertisement, it would read something like this:

Clues found. Suspects trailed. Crimes detected.
Visit our office equipped with the latest surveillance equipment.

Being only 10 years old and with limited transportation, Kate performs the majority of her detective
This first novel has gotten quite a bit of attention already--it's won the 2007 COSTA First Novel Award, was shortlisted for The Guardian First Book Award and long listed for both the Booker and the Orange prize.

O'Flynn is truly a new voice with a great talent. This book starts off with quirky 10 year old Kate, orphaned and living with her grandmother, a very smart, loner of a child. But
she's not lonely--she's too busy running her own detective agency. Falling in love with her takes all of about
Apr 04, 2010 El rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 21st-centurylit
At first I thought this was going to be a Harriet the Spy for adults, and I was excited. The book begins in 1984 with Kate Meaney, a ten-year-old girl who fancies herself a detective. She lives by a book called How to be a Detective, carries a notebook and a stuffed monkey, and draws clues in everyday places based on the things she overhears and sees. The reader finds, however, that Kate disappears under mysterious circumstances. The second part of the book takes place in 2003 in which Kate's di ...more
Sep 13, 2007 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who liked To Kill a Mockingbird, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
In 1983 10 year old junior detective Kate Meaney--with her stuffed gangster monkey Mickey in tow--vanishes from a public school entrance exam. Her detective instincts previously leading her all throughout the newly opened Green Oaks shopping mall near her home, not to mention the curious neighborhoods near her English home, her disappearance suggests she stumbled upon activities of a nature no 10 year old ought to witness. "What Was Lost," which splits its time 33/67 between 1983 and 2004, spend ...more
Monica Edinger
Oct 28, 2008 Monica Edinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
This is a fairly short book, but I spent a long time with it because I was listening to it.

This book begins in 1984 as little Kate Meaney wanders about her world of council flats and the Green Oaks mall, taking notes and investigating, a sad little Harriet the Spy. Then it jumps forward to twenty years dead smack in the midst of Green Oaks. Kate, we learn, disappeared in 1984 and no one ever knew what happened to her. Now we follow Kurt, a security guard and Lisa, a music store manager, both te
Michael Bohli
Jul 15, 2016 Michael Bohli rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"What Was Lost" beginnt toll geschrieben, wunderbar erzählt und auch ein wenig mysteriös mit der Geschichte des kleinen Mädchens Kate. Eine angehende Detektivin, die in ihrem kleinen Ort in England oft alleine durch die Strassen streift und nach Übeltätern sucht. Doch dann passiert etwas schlimmes...

Mit dem Zeitsprung nach vorne versucht Catherine O'Flynn die Geschichte aus neuen Perspektiven aufzurollen, ohne die Verbrechen klar anzusprechen. Das gelingt zuerst wunderbar, denn mit ihren Charakt
Aug 29, 2015 Fanficfan44 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The premise is that a precocious ten year old private detective, who of course is an orphan and currently lives with a relative who want to pack her off to boarding school, disappears. A young man is suspected and it ruins his life and his family’s even though nothing is ever proven. The story picks up again when the adult sister of the suspect and the security guard of a local mall where Kate hung out before she disappeared meet and pieces of Kate’s story come to life as clues are discovered. S ...more
Lynne Norman
Aug 10, 2012 Lynne Norman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written and imaginative first novel. 'What Was Lost' is an extremely unusual blend of (sometimes laugh out loud) satire and very bleak tragedy. O'Flynn offers a painfully insightful perspective on loneliness - portrayed almost as an epidemic - dysfunctional relationships, grief and aimlessness. The lead characters are likable and 10 year old Kate is extremely endearing. The mystery at the heart of the story keeps you turning the pages but the book is not really about yet another missing p ...more
David Hebblethwaite
I was looking forward to reading this, as it sounded just the sort of quirky book that I enjoy. And parts of it were just that — but the whole didn’t quite hang together.

In 1984, ten-year-old Kate Meaney decides to set up her own detective agency, covering her Birmingham neighbourhood and nearby Green Oaks. After 68 pages following Kate, the action shifts to 2003, where we spend the bulk of the novel’s remainder, in the company of Kurt, a security guard at the Green Oaks Shopping Centre, and Lis
Jan 17, 2008 Oliver rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: shopping addicts, CCTV obsessives and ghost hunters
Recommended to Oliver by: the newspapers
I never knew ghosts stories could be this depressing. Either they scare you, make you laugh or leave you indifferent, right? Catherine O'Flynn breaks new haunting ground with this novel, winner of the Costa Fist Novel Award 2007, by exploring the sadness generated in a community after the construction of a glossy shopping centre in the 80s, and the ghost that inhabits it. The novel centres around little Kate, who wishes to escape her reality by playing detective and following strangers in the ma ...more
Aug 21, 2011 Antonia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 2011
unexpectedly good. a short book and well readable in one sitting of a few hours. i could not put it down once i started it and it was short enough to do just that on a sunday morning.

i really liked the microcosmos of the shopping mall and the descriptions of despair and emptiness. so overpowering over the actual characters in the story. although at times it seemed a bit forced and messianic. i mean - you more or less know all this if you ever worked in retail or actually most other jobs. and wen
Feb 25, 2008 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The shopping mall is relatively unexplored territory for writers of literary fiction. So it was an interesting decision by Catherine O'Flynn to use it as the setting for her novel. Focusing on the disappearance of a ten year old girl,the narrative is split between 1984 when the mall is in its early days and 2003, when it has become the kind of cathedral to consumerism we're all so familiar with today. The first half of the novel is told from the point of view of Kate, the girl who disappears, an ...more
Evanston Public  Library
In 1980s Birmingham, England, young Kate Meaney works seriously hard as a junior detective. Accompanied by detective in training, Mickey (a toy monkey), she trails suspects around town and at the Green Oaks shopping mall, recording her every observation in a top secret notebook. When she suddenly disappears, suspicion falls on her older friend Adrian, son of a local shopkeeper, though the case remains unresolved.
Cut to 2003, at the rather malevolent Green Oaks shopping mall, where consumerism d
Dec 06, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Going into this book I assumed it was a murder mystery, but it really wasn't. The brilliance of this book is that it just seemed to plod along, relating what appear to be quite everyday, mundane activities in the lives of the characters. But then at the culmination of the book, when we finally find out what happened to the missing girl, everything comes together and you understand why all those seemingly mundane facts were important. In many ways this was a story about hope for those who seemed ...more
Nov 20, 2014 Melissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ladies-writin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 28, 2015 Cindy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book started off fine, but ended poorly. It was difficult to finish as it loses the reader's interest with much meandering of side stories that do not always lend anything to the whole. The account of what actually happened to Kate makes little sense and is way to predictable as the easy ending since it latches on to the only unlikeable character left. What was lost with this book was my time reading it!
Nov 12, 2012 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As this book won the Costa First Book prize and was short/long listed for the Guardian, Man Booker and Orange, I can't believe I'd never heard of it before finding it in Oxfam.

This book was an absolute treat; satisfyingly full of plot from cover to cover, pacy, humourous and, to anyone who was young in the 80s, nostalgic.

The novel centres on a lonely but very clever 10 year old child who sees herself as a detective, keeping the huge new mall opened in Birmingham, free of crime. She disappears an
Apr 07, 2009 Alexandra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What was lost was a day of my time. The story line sounds interesting: a young girl who loved to play detective goes missing and a 22 year old male neighbor she has befriended is suspected. She is never found and the young man leaves town never to return. The story picks up 20 or so years later from the point of view of the younger sister of the suspect and a few other people who all work in the shopping mall at which the missing girl had frequently conducted survellience.
I was waiting for the
Jane Bystry
Feb 18, 2014 Jane Bystry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not your typical mystery, random past happenings come together by chance to solve a young girl's disappearance. Characters real life, and the missing girl very likeable.
Dec 10, 2009 Kathrina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
Though centered around a missing child, this story plays out not as a mystery, but a contemplation on crime, identity, and environment. Our ten-year-old child-detective reminds me a lot of Neal Shusterman's "The Schwa Was Here", as she learns to embrace her invisibility in the generic, manufactured environment of the local gargantuan mall. Quite a shock to discover she's not as invisible as she believes. There are a few scenes thrown in of "life in the mall" which, though spread thin for relevan ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Wrong book. Please help. 3 15 Jun 22, 2014 11:59AM  
Bound Together: What Was Lost discussion 59 80 Jul 15, 2012 08:41AM  
  • Gifted
  • Becoming Strangers
  • The Wilderness
  • Beauty
  • 26a
  • How Far Is the Ocean from Here
  • Eve Green
  • Day
  • Go With Me
  • Consolation
  • Breakheart Hill
  • The Four Last Things (Roth, #1)
  • Pravda
  • The Tenderness of Wolves
  • Afterwards
  • My Father's Son
  • God on the Rocks
  • The Hiding Place
Catherine O'Flynn, born in 1970, is a British writer.

Her debut novel, What Was Lost, won the Costa First Novel Award, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, The Commonwealth Writers' Prize and The Southbank Show Literature Award. It was longlisted for the Booker and Orange Prizes. She was named Waterstone’s Newcomer of the Year at the 2008 Galaxy British Book Awards.

Her second novel T
More about Catherine O'Flynn...

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“He was glad some of the pain was fading, had already faded so much since the first year. But it seemed more to be a trade off: with the pain went details and memories. People had said, ‘Time heals,’ but he realized time didn’t heal, time just eroded and confused, and he didn’t think that was the same thing at all.” 4 likes
“I don’t know – I suppose if you’re very unhappy at home, anywhere is better than there.” 4 likes
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