Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Nora Watts #1

The Lost Ones

Rate this book
It's late. The phone rings.

The man on the other end says his daughter is missing.

Your daughter.

The baby you gave away over fifteen years ago.

What do you do?


Nora Watts isn't sure that she wants to get involved. Troubled, messed up, and with more than enough problems of her own, Nora doesn't want to revisit the past. But then she sees the photograph. A girl, a teenager, with her eyes. How can she turn her back on her?

But going in search of her daughter brings Nora into contact with a past that she would rather forget, a past that she has worked hard to put behind her, but which is always there, waiting for her . . .

Sheena Kamal has created a kick-ass protagonist who will give Lisbeth Salander a run for her money. Intuitive, not always likeable, and deeply flawed, Nora Watts is a new heroine for our time.

343 pages, Hardcover

First published February 9, 2017

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Sheena Kamal

8 books380 followers
Sheena Kamal was born in the Caribbean and immigrated to Canada as a child. She holds an HBA in Political Science from the University of Toronto, and was awarded a TD Canada Trust scholarship for community leadership and activism around the issue of homelessness.

Sheena is a winner of the Kobo Emerging Writer Award. Her first novel, The Lost Ones/Eyes Like Mine won a Strand Magazine Critics Award for Best First Novel. It was a Globe and Mail Bestseller, a TIME Magazine Thriller of the Summer, and an iBooks best book of July.

The sequel, IT ALL FALLS DOWN is out now.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
511 (11%)
4 stars
1,488 (33%)
3 stars
1,696 (38%)
2 stars
586 (13%)
1 star
160 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 763 reviews
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,284 reviews119k followers
June 16, 2022
They are so dark that pupil and iris are virtually indistinguishable, fringed by long lashes that might make them pretty until you take a closer look, and then you will see that they absorb all the light around them and refuse to budge an inch. When looking into them, if you ever do, you will suddenly remember appointments that you should be making and previous engagements that you’ve forgotten to put on your calendar.
Nora Watts may be living in the basement of her employers’ building. She may have substance issues and been to rehab a time or three. She may not be beautiful, well dressed, or well to do, but she has a gift. Those intimidating deep-pool eyes of hers can see a part of the spectrum that is dark to the rest of us too much of the time. She sees the dark shade of dishonesty. Nora Watts is a lie-detector extraordinaire. This gift comes in handy working for a PI and a freelance journalist. And as there is never a shortage of bullshit to be detected, Nora has plenty to do. Of course everything she does is not necessarily part of her paid gig.

A desperate couple gets in touch. The police have been useless in tracking down their MIA teenage daughter. But Nora may be the perfect person from whom to seek assistance. The missing teen, Bronwyn, aka Bonnie, has eyes exactly like Nora’s. She is, in fact, the child Nora gave away at birth.

There is a parallel investigation she undertakes, this one on the books. Tracking down a witness to a gang murder. This bit is given reasonable attention, but is definitely secondary to the search for her missing spawn.

description
Sheena Kamal - from her FB pages

Sheena Kamal is an activist and an actress in addition to being a writer. She worked in Toronto on homelessness, which clearly informs her work here. She later worked researching crime and investigative journalism for film and TV.
About two years ago, I was working as a TV researcher for a crime drama series when an idea began to form for a project of my own. A dark, psychological suspense novel. I’d never written a novel before, but the idea wouldn’t let go and I found myself at a crossroads. In a moment of righteous conviction, I took the least logical path available. I quit my job and moved across the country to Vancouver, because this is where my story would be set. I had no employment prospects on the West Coast, no money, no friends, nothing but the drive to write. For the next year, I took day work in the film and television industry to make ends meet, ate out of cans, pocketed food from set. One week I had nowhere else to go so I lived in a tent. I’m told some people do this for fun. I am not one of them. - from the Thrillerfest interview
Nora Watts is an amazing character. I have seen her compared to Lisbeth Salander, and that seems a reasonable comparison. Unlike her Swedish predecessor she is not a computer whiz. But like her dragon-y counterpart, Nora has had a less than lovely past. It includes a missing mom, dead father, a slew of foster homes, and worse. The trials of her experience have given her a caustic view of the world, a thick skin, but it is all there to protect that very vulnerable central core. Maybe one of the self-protection mechanisms at play is a hole in her memory from a traumatic event she had endured many years before.

Every good fictional investigator has to be able to demonstrate detection licks. I quite enjoyed Nora’s Sherlockian penchant for observing small detail.
I can tell that the coffee here is terrible, but the muffins are not too bad. People exiting with takeout cups in their hands peel back the lid, gulp, and then grimace. Those with muffins never bat an eye. They shrug and move on, seeing the muffins as money well spent.
Nora tracks the crumbs to the crimes, encountering the necessary batterings, misdirections and betrayals that so often line that path. Seeing when people are lying offers one a bit of a light in the woods, but one still has to traverse the forest and cope with its sometimes hostile fauna.

Speaking of flora and fauna, one of the prime ingredients in any good mystery is a sense of place. Salander’s Sweden is a recent example. The more classic sorts would include Philip Marlowe in LA, Sam Spade in San Francisco, that Holmes guy in London, and far too many more to list them all. The place here is Vancouver, including Vancouver Island. You will feel the wet, the gray, and the cold while reading, so you might want to keep a throw and a warm cup of what works at hand. Kamal takes us from a look at the city’s meaner streets to both the beauty of and horror that can be made of nature’s gifts.

One of the great strengths of The Lost Ones is Kamal’s stable of supporting characters. Brazuca is a forty-something former sponsor who summons an image of Jeffrey Dean Morgan. There is a contact who runs a tech company, but also performs in drag. Nora’s employers, a very gay PI and an erstwhile foreign affairs reporter gone stand-alone are mostly in the background here, but I could see them growing in significance in future volumes. Nora’s sister, Lorelei, is a real piece of work. There is a Bond-villain dragon lady and plenty of Agent Smith sorts to keep Nora running, jumping and driving far too fast. Best of all is a real bitch, no, really. Of course she is amazingly loyal, and brightens up the page whenever she trots across the text. She and Nora did not meet in the usual way. Responding to noise outside the office where she lives
At first I thought it was a manifestation of my hangover, but after an hour of huddling in the corner, wrapped in a blanket, I got angry. Okay, that’s not true. I got paranoid, drank a beer to calm my nerves, and then got angry. When I went out, steel pipe in hand, I found a huge ball of matted furs sniffing distastefully at a carton of spoiled chow mein I had put in the garbage the night before. The ball of fur looked at me with baleful eyes, but made no move to beat a hasty exit when I tried to shoo her away. I’ve called her Whisper ever since.
Not to be too cute, Whisper has issues as well, as you will learn. Still, though, an Asta-level pooch adds a bright element to a dark tale.

I had a couple of issues with The Lost Ones. The major one was that Nora gained access to locations she was checking into via being mistaken for an expected, but not familiar worker. Once, fine. Twice is pushing it. There is an event that occurs late in the book (not gonna say) that had a scent of deus ex machina. A subsequent explanation made sense, but the foundation behind that needed to have been laid a bit more clearly earlier in the book.

Kamal is not just concerned with telling a gripping story, which she has done. She is also interested in looking at some issues that are significant in Canada. Race is one. Nora comes from mixed race heritage, her father having been Native American. She reports on attempts by the European conquerors to erase Native cultures and notes, bitterly, differences in treatment based on skin color.
I could get into my complicated parentage. I could point out to him that my dubious genes are at least part indigenous from my father’s side and part something I don’t even know from my mother‘s. Because she left when I was a child and I don’t know a thing about her, not even where she came from. What I do know is that I look somewhat like my father, and girls who look like me are more likely to go missing, and less likely to have their disappearances investigated.
The beauty of the land comes in for some appreciation, particularly when it looks likely to be spoiled by thoughtless development. As does consideration of the devaluation of investigative reporting.

With The Lost Ones, Sheena Kamal has hit the ground running so hard there must be team of corporate goons chasing her. Nora Watts lights up the page with her humanity, as well as her courage, her vulnerability as well as her determination. She is a damaged hero worth admiring. The treatment of place in this suspense novel is top notch, giving readers a look at BC that is probably not in the tourism brochures, and a look at Canada that is about more than single-payer-envy and welcoming Syrian refugees. You will rip through these pages, engaged and maybe panting, maybe staving off a bit of whiplash from the twists, accelerations and sudden downshifts. The most likely question you will have on finishing this book is, “When is the next one coming out?” (a trilogy is planned) You won’t have to dig deep, travel far or risk life and limb to find The Lost Ones. But whatever effort you expend will be repaid many times over. Look up, there to the north a bit. Yeah, there. See it? A star is born.

Review first Posted – 12/23/2016

Publication
-----hardcover - July 25, 2017
-----trade paperback - June 26, 2018




=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Instagram, and FB pages

My reviews of other books by the author
-----It All Falls Down - Nora Watts #2 - 2018
-----No Going Back - Nora Watts #3 - 2020

PS – the title for the UK version is Eyes Like Mine

A short piece by Kamal for the upcoming Thrillerfest in NYC July, 2017

February 7, 2019 - Why Are So Many Native American Women Abused, Missing and Murdered? - by Elayne Clift - the article appeared in Daily Kos

June 3, 2019 - The Daily Beast - Canada Calls Violence Against Indigenous Women ‘Genocide’ - by Julia Arciga

November 14, 2019 - Literary Hub - When Will We Pay Attention to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women? - by Jessica McDiarmid
Profile Image for Deanna .
647 reviews12.4k followers
March 14, 2017
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

4.5 stars

This novel has two titles "Eyes Like Mine" (UK) and "The Lost Ones"

I read the description of this novel and was immediately intrigued.


I have noticed recently that I hate hearing the phone ring. The sound instantly puts me on edge.....especially at night. So I can only imagine how Nora Watts feels when her phone rings at 5AM and a man named tells her she may know something about a missing girl. She agrees to meet Everett Walsh and his wife at a local diner. They are well-groomed and driving an expensive car. They are obviously an affluent couple.

Nora asks them who referred them to her. They tell her that they hired someone to find HER. Nora is very confused now.... the man repeats what he told her on the phone, that their daughter is missing. Then his wife drops a bomb on Nora with her next statement.....

"HER daughter is missing. Did you tell her that?"

Nora is in shock. They are talking about the baby she gave up for adoption fifteen years ago. But that was a sealed adoption. No one should know who she is. Before she can dwell on that, they thrust a picture at her. Nora instantly sees she's looking at a picture of her daughter. The unique eyes are identical to her own. She analyses the picture and can see that the girls smile doesn't reach her eyes. It looks like she's only pretending to be happy.

Her name is Bronwyn (Bonnie) and she's been missing for two weeks. She lied and said she was going camping, stole money and has not been heard from since. She's done this before so the police won't do much to find her. They call her a chronic runaway.

But she has ALWAYS come home before. Nora can see that Everett is an emotional wreck. His wife is cool and patronizing... she insinuates that it is Nora's fault their daughter is acting this way. The whole Nature vs. Nurture....that Nora's nature is influencing Bonnie even though they've never met.

"like she has run off to be with her true family and together we will live a wasteful, booze-soaked life. That we will laugh at them from over the tops of our forties."

Nora tells them she hasn't heard from Bonnie and walks out. Everett follows her, still wanting her help. Nora is hesitant to get involved. She wonders how they know so much about her. How did they know that she looks for missing people for a living?

Will Nora help find their/her daughter?

Next, a girl is sitting by a lake. She has been attacked. She has no idea what to do but knows she needs to get moving. She hopes that soon "They" will think she's dead and stop looking for her.

My first thought is that the girl is Bonnie...but is it?

Nora's bosses call her their "expert bullshit detector" She locates witnesses and then sits in on the interviews to see if the people are lying. She sees the stuff that people are trying to hide. It's her specialty.

"There's a feeling I get when a lie is told. A disgust that creeps up when a liar is doing her best to muck things up or, more likely, save her own ass. Oftentimes, I can't put my finger on it; I can only tell when I see it. And years in foster care honed this skill to an art"

Her bosses are good to her. They don't pry into her life or push into her personal space. However, they don't realize she's been living in the basement of the office building with her dog, Whisper.

I really enjoyed this novel. It was chock full of interesting characters, suspense, twists and even humor. Nora is an unlikely hero. She's not always likeable....not by a long shot, but she has a strength and resilience that I admire. The things she has been through would have broken most people. The voice she hears every night in her nightmares. Nora has many secrets and to say that she has trust issues is putting it mildly. Right away you can understand why she has those trust issues and why her only real companion and confidant is her dog, Whisper.

Oh I LOVED Whisper! The personality of this dog was written so well. I could visualize this mutt and Nora walking the streets of Vancouver. Whisper and Nora were perfect together and many of the funniest moments included the dog.

Sheena Kamal did a wonderful job of bringing her characters to life. Characters I loved and the some I didn't. Oh I really disliked some. Nora's sister, Lorelei for one. Nora says "She has an angel's face but the tongue of a shrieking harpy". But Nora understands why her sister is the way she is. However, that didn't stop me from wanting to jump into the book and throttle Lorelei.

There was a lot of action in this novel but it wasn't really hard to keep up. Although I will say that the reader should be prepared to suspend belief now and then as there were a few things that didn't seem entirely plausible. However, it really didn't dampen the story for me. I was caught up in what was happening and what was going to happen next.

Did I say how much I loved the dog?

An extremely interesting, well-written debut novel. I'm happy to hear that there will be a sequel to this book as I really want to know what happens next!

Thank you NetGalley and Zaffre, for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Roxane.
Author 120 books155k followers
July 19, 2018
An elegant, finely wrought thriller with a frustrating but compelling protagonist. Nora Watts is a fascinating, complicated woman with a very specific moral code. At times I wish the narrative moved faster but the way this builds tension is masterful. Loved this.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,284 reviews119k followers
May 16, 2020
They are so dark that pupil and iris are virtually indistinguishable, fringed by long lashes that might make them pretty until you take a closer look, and then you will see that they absorb all the light around them and refuse to budge an inch. When looking into them, if you ever do, you will suddenly remember appointments that you should be making and previous engagements that you’ve forgotten to put on your calendar.
Nora Watts may be living in the basement of her employers’ building. She may have substance issues and been to rehab a time or three. She may not be beautiful, well dressed, or well to do, but she has a gift. Those intimidating deep-pool eyes of hers can see a part of the spectrum that is dark to the rest of us too much of the time. She sees the dark shade of dishonesty. Nora Watts is a lie-detector extraordinaire. This gift comes in handy working for a PI and a freelance journalist. And as there is never a shortage of bullshit to be detected, Nora has plenty to do. Of course everything she does is not necessarily part of her paid gig.

A desperate couple gets in touch. The police have been useless in tracking down their MIA teenage daughter. But Nora may be the perfect person from whom to seek assistance. The missing teen, Bronwyn, aka Bonnie, has eyes exactly like Nora’s. She is, in fact, the child Nora gave away at birth.

There is a parallel investigation she undertakes, this one on the books. Tracking down a witness to a gang murder. This bit is given reasonable attention, but is definitely secondary to the search for her missing spawn.

description
Sheena Kamal - from her FB pages

Sheena Kamal is an activist and an actress in addition to being a writer. She worked in Toronto on homelessness, which clearly informs her work here. She later worked researching crime and investigative journalism for film and TV.
About two years ago, I was working as a TV researcher for a crime drama series when an idea began to form for a project of my own. A dark, psychological suspense novel. I’d never written a novel before, but the idea wouldn’t let go and I found myself at a crossroads. In a moment of righteous conviction, I took the least logical path available. I quit my job and moved across the country to Vancouver, because this is where my story would be set. I had no employment prospects on the West Coast, no money, no friends, nothing but the drive to write. For the next year, I took day work in the film and television industry to make ends meet, ate out of cans, pocketed food from set. One week I had nowhere else to go so I lived in a tent. I’m told some people do this for fun. I am not one of them. - from the Thrillerfest interview
Nora Watts is an amazing character. I have seen her compared to Lisbeth Salander, and that seems a reasonable comparison. Unlike her Swedish predecessor she is not a computer whiz. But like her dragon-y counterpart, Nora has had a less than lovely past. It includes a missing mom, dead father, a slew of foster homes, and worse. The trials of her experience have given her a caustic view of the world, a thick skin, but it is all there to protect that very vulnerable central core. Maybe one of the self-protection mechanisms at play is a hole in her memory from a traumatic event she had endured many years before.

Every good fictional investigator has to be able to demonstrate detection licks. I quite enjoyed Nora’s Sherlockian penchant for observing small detail.
I can tell that the coffee here is terrible, but the muffins are not too bad. People exiting with takeout cups in their hands peel back the lid, gulp, and then grimace. Those with muffins never bat an eye. They shrug and move on, seeing the muffins as money well spent.
Nora tracks the crumbs to the crimes, encountering the necessary batterings, misdirections and betrayals that so often line that path. Seeing when people are lying offers one a bit of a light in the woods, but one still has to traverse the forest and cope with its sometimes hostile fauna.

Speaking of flora and fauna, one of the prime ingredients in any good mystery is a sense of place. Salander’s Sweden is a recent example. The more classic sorts would include Philip Marlowe in LA, Sam Spade in San Francisco, that Holmes guy in London, and far too many more to list them all. The place here is Vancouver, including Vancouver Island. You will feel the wet, the gray, and the cold while reading, so you might want to keep a throw and a warm cup of what works at hand. Kamal takes us from a look at the city’s meaner streets to both the beauty of and horror that can be made of nature’s gifts.

One of the great strengths of Eyes Like Mine is Kamal’s stable of supporting characters. Brazuca is a forty-something former sponsor who summons an image of Jeffrey Dean Morgan. There is a contact who runs a tech company, but also performs in drag. Nora’s employers, a very gay PI and an erstwhile foreign affairs reporter gone stand-alone are mostly in the background here, but I could see them growing in significance in future volumes. Nora’s sister, Lorelei, is a real piece of work. There is a Bond-villain dragon lady and plenty of Agent Smith sorts to keep Nora running, jumping and driving far too fast. Best of all is a real bitch, no, really. Of course she is amazingly loyal, and brightens up the page whenever she trots across the text. She and Nora did not meet in the usual way. Responding to noise outside the office where she lives
At first I thought it was a manifestation of my hangover, but after an hour of huddling in the corner, wrapped in a blanket, I got angry. Okay, that’s not true. I got paranoid, drank a beer to calm my nerves, and then got angry. When I went out, steel pipe in hand, I found a huge ball of matted furs sniffing distastefully at a carton of spoiled chow mein I had put in the garbage the night before. The ball of fur looked at me with baleful eyes, but made no move to beat a hasty exit when I tried to shoo her away. I’ve called her Whisper ever since.
Not to be too cute, Whisper has issues as well, as you will learn. Still, though, an Asta-level pooch adds a bright element to a dark tale.

I had a couple of issues with Eyes Like Mine. The major one was that Nora gained access to locations she was checking into via being mistaken for an expected, but not familiar worker. Once, fine. Twice is pushing it. There is an event that occurs late in the book (not gonna say) that had a scent of deus ex machina. A subsequent explanation made sense, but the foundation behind that needed to have been laid a bit more clearly earlier in the book.

Kamal is not just concerned with telling a gripping story, which she has done. She is also interested in looking at some issues that are significant in Canada. Race is one. Nora comes from mixed race heritage, her father having been Native American. She reports on attempts by the European conquerors to erase Native cultures and notes, bitterly, differences in treatment based on skin color.
I could get into my complicated parentage. I could point out to him that my dubious genes are at least part indigenous from my father’s side and part something I don’t even know from my mother‘s. Because she left when I was a child and I don’t know a thing about her, not even where she came from. What I do know is that I look somewhat like my father, and girls who look like me are more likely to go missing, and less likely to have their disappearances investigated.
The beauty of the land comes in for some appreciation, particularly when it looks likely to be spoiled by thoughtless development. As does consideration of the devaluation of investigative reporting.

With Eyes Like Mine, Sheena Kamal has hit the ground running so hard there must be team of corporate goons chasing her. Nora Watts lights up the page with her humanity, as well as her courage, her vulnerability as well as her determination. She is a damaged hero worth admiring. The treatment of place in this suspense novel is top notch, giving readers a look at BC that is probably not in the tourism brochures, and a look at Canada that is about more than single-payer-envy and welcoming Syrian refugees. You will rip through these pages, engaged and maybe panting, maybe staving off a bit of whiplash from the twists, accelerations and sudden downshifts. The most likely question you will have on finishing this book is, “When is the next one coming out?” (a trilogy is planned) You won’t have to dig deep, travel far or risk life and limb to find Eyes Like Mine. But whatever effort you expend will be repaid many times over. Look up, over there, to the chillier part of North America. Yeah, there. See it? A star is born.

Review Posted – 12/23/2016

Publication date - 7/25/2017


=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Instagram, and FB pages

PS – the title for the USA version is The Lost Ones. This review was posted for that one in December 2016.

My reviews of other books by the author
-----It All Falls Down - Nora Watts #2 - 2018
-----No Going Back - Nora Watts #3 - 2020

A short piece by Kamal for the upcoming Thrillerfest in NYC July, 2017

A wonderful piece on the origin of Nora Watts and Kamal’s decision to write her as a novel rather than a screenplay – for Powell’s - Rain and the Blues

June 3, 2019 - The Daily Beast - Canada Calls Violence Against Indigenous Women ‘Genocide’ - by Julia Arciga
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,686 reviews14k followers
September 14, 2017
Nora is a survivor. As a child she saw something no child should ever have to see, raised in foster homes, she has seen and done things, using whatever she could just to survive. As a young adult a senseless act of violence was perpetuated against her, a horrible incident that she has tried to put behind her. Unfortunately, there is a lasting effect of this violence that she will struggle with, something that though she tries, cannot be forgotten. She is an alcoholic, does not trust many, though now she feels she is in a better mental place. She has gone to AA, getting her drinking under control, a mangy dog has adopted her, named Whisper. She is working as an unofficial investigator for a pair of men, whom she has also let into her limited group of friends. Then the phone rings, and she finds her past has come to call.

Taking place in Vancouver, this is a start of a new series featuring a gritty, tough and very flawed character. The phone call will derail her plans for a stable life, plunging her into danger, pitting her against a formidable for. I quite liked Nora, felt for her and admired her never give up attitude. Her ability to care against all odds. The first person narration allows us to see how she thinks, how she follows one thread to another. Some interesting supporting character as well. There is plenty of action, especially near the end. Plenty of suspense and some solid writing. A very good start to what should be a great series.
Profile Image for Beverly.
773 reviews266 followers
July 28, 2022
Wow, just wow, this is the strongest, most engaging, vulnerable and determined character that I've encountered in a long time. Sheena Kamal has created a stirring, heart-rending portrait of what life is like for indigenous people in Vancouver with her portrait of Nora Watts.

The Lost Ones is a thriller and mystery and revolves around Nora's search for the teenaged daughter she gave up for adoption as a baby. Bronwyn or Bonnie had run away before, but never stayed away so long and her adoptive parents are so desperate, they reach out to Nora.

Nora doesn't want this task. She is a recovering alcoholic who exists on the fringe of society. Her bosses are a gay couple, one a detective and the other a journalist, so they understand a little bit about being on the edge of society themselves. They appreciate a special skill Nora uses for her work; she can tell when someone is lying and people lie a lot. Nora has other skills too. Don't ever discount her in a fight. She has been taken to the dark side before and she won't go back.
Profile Image for Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings).
1,477 reviews148 followers
March 18, 2018
I loved "Eyes Like Mine" by Sheena Kamal - a perfect character driven thriller with a psychological edge, focusing mainly on the female protagonist, fresh and original Nora Watts in an interesting, intriguing and highly entertaining story.
- It's late. The phone rings. The man on the other end says his daughter is missing. Your daughter. The baby you gave away over fifteen years ago. What do you do? Nora Watts isn't sure she wants to get involved. But then she sees the photograph. A girl, a teenager, with her eyes. How can she turn her back on her? She thought her past was forgotten, she was wrong...... -
This story had an exceedingly well thought out plot, realistic and brutal with excellently portrayed characters. I totally loved Nora, this new kick ass heroine - deeply flawed but genuine, brave but unassuming and I really enjoyed reading the storyline with her as the main character, though Whisper her dog certainly gave that role a run for her money. It was interesting to read how outsider Nora, who had a rough upbringing and who is completely dissociated from any kind of heritage, forges her own path in life.
Set in the colourful city of Vancouver, Canada with its multi cultures and seedy areas, the author has done a fabulous job of transporting the reader to this area and making you feel a part of the story.
"Eyes Like Mine" is Sheena Kamal's fantastic debut novel and a truly excellent example of Canadian Noir that without doubt shows that any further books will be equally as well written and plotted, if not better!
I look forward to reading the sequel "It All Falls Down" later this year and meeting Nora again, she's a fab character that makes an interesting story all the more entertaining!

4 stars.
Profile Image for Mackey.
1,033 reviews362 followers
August 15, 2017
There is a missing girl, you've been asked to find her. The catch? She is your daughter, the one you gave up for adoption 15 years before.
This was an intriguing storyline; one that grabbed my attention from the beginning and did not let go. In a summer filled with many repetitious themes, this one was quite different.

Sheena Kamal has worked with people who lived on the streets and her writing style and vernacular is very authentic. Toward the end there were a few scenes that stretched believability in such an otherwise starkly truthful novel, but despite that this was so well written that I couldn't put it down.
Profile Image for Selene.
933 reviews229 followers
November 15, 2017
3.5 stars

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
POV:
Setting: Vancouver, Canada
Writing style: 3.75/5

A woman who’s mentally on autopilot deviates from her daily monotonous routine in search of a daughter long since removed from her thoughts. Her daughter’s unknown whereabouts lead Nora Watts on a high-speed journey that realigns her with the shadowy faces of her past. This unrelenting search for the truth propels Nora down a rabbit hole full of corruption in high and low places.

This book is a raw and gritty piece featuring a jaded heroine who’s lived a hard life! Having been abandoned by her mother and placed in a foster home after her father’s death, Nora felt like she didn’t fit in anywhere. Add to that the sexual trauma she’d experienced as a young woman and her ongoing substance abuse struggles, Nora appeared very cold and clinical at first. I warmed up to her eventually.

◈ There were some heartfelt and poignant bits in Nora’s thoughts:

What I loved about singing the blues is that it cuts straight to the heart of a thing. You come naked with your soul lying carved open and exposed on the slab or you don’t come at all. Give it real or keep it to yourself.

◈ But it was the relationship between Nora and her four-legged companion, Whisper, that made me enjoy this story most. Some of her thoughts about Whisper?

The only downside to Whisper is that she is sex-crazed, even though the doctor at the veterinary clinic down the road assures me that she has been spayed. She is part hound, part wolf, and all nymphomaniac. Matted fur aside, I can tell from her excellent physical condition that she was once well taken care of, but I imagine that her slutty ways got her kicked out of a good home. She will gleefully hump anything that sniffs at her for longer than five seconds. She regrets it afterward and spends the following week in a depressed slump. After the hormonal high comes the self-loathing. I don’t get mad at her, because I’ve been there.

◈ The author touched on a vast array of topics within this story: loneliness, mixed-race heritage, racism, and betrayal. I liked how realistic the characters were, but there were some pieces of the story (at the end) that slanted more towards the improbable aspect. I’m also intrigued about what role Jon Brazuca will play in the upcoming sequel and how he will fit into Nora’s life, if at all. In sum, I enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

*Complimentary copy kindly provided by NetGalley/ Bonnier Zaffre in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Emma.
970 reviews956 followers
February 7, 2017
Nora Watts is one of those singular characters that demand the entirety of the narrative, such that in this novel, the plot and secondary characters serve only to enhance her story. Perhaps for another book that would be a negative comment, but in this one it feels exactly right. She is caustic and damaged and far from over her past. She does what she has to but without superhuman qualities, just determination and a very bad attitude. I didn't always like her, but I liked her creation, liked the way this felt so different from other offerings out there. Her supporting cast may be there to serve her, but they nevertheless manage to make an impression, even her depressed, sex-mad dog Whisper. In this, there is the hint of humour that underlies the darkness of the story, enough to keep it a step away from unbearable. And maybe the plot does suffer somewhat, or maybe I wasn't interested in the evil mining family backstory. Either way, it mattered little to the overall feeling. Perhaps in the next book, this aspect will need to be stepped up somewhat. The reader now knows Nora as well as we might ever know her, so the story will have to move outside of her. I, for one, will be there to see how that goes.
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,624 reviews1,602 followers
February 5, 2017
The phone rings late at night. The man on the other end of the phone tells you his daughter is missing, your daughter, the one you gave up over 15 years ago. What would you do?

Nora Watts is not sure she wants to get involved. With more than enough problems of her own. But then she sees a photograph of a teenage girl with her eyes. How can she turn her back on her?

This is another well written novel. The story is action packed from the start. We get taken into a corrupt world full of lies, betrayal and vengeance. Can't wait to read the rest in the series.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Bonnier Zaffre and the author Sheena Kamal for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,910 reviews763 followers
February 9, 2017
Eyes Like Mine starts off with Nora Watts learning that her daughter Bonnie that she gave birth to 15 years ago, but didn't keep has gone missing. Has Bonnie run away, or have she been kidnapped? For Nora is Bonnie just an awful reminder of something traumatic that happened to her years ago, but still, she can't help, but try to find out the truth about what happened to Bonnie.

Eyes Like Mine is a bleak thriller about a woman that has been through so much since she was a child that it's amazing that she has the strength to keep going. Her mother left her and her younger sister and her father killed himself when they were very young and they ended up in foster care. Then, years later she ends up pregnant with a child she doesn't want. And, now she has to face the past and through the book, we learn the truth about what happened to her that made her give up her daughter.

It's not hard to feel sorry for Nora Watts, she has been through so much and not with not much support through her life. Her sister is a real bitch. She does, however, have the greatest bosses, a gay couple and she also has a dog that, despite Nora's pessimistic nature seems to like her more than Nora thinks. She also has a strained relationship with her ex-sponsor.

The book is engaging to read, you get pulled into the story and it doesn't let you go. I did, however, feel that I wanted to know more when the story ended, not that the ending was bad, just that I wanted to know what would happen next.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,684 reviews2,239 followers
May 8, 2018


”You can take everything I have
You can break everything I am
Like I'm made of glass
Like I'm made of paper
Go on and try to tear me down
I will be rising from the ground
Like a skyscraper, like a skyscraper”

-- Skyscraper, Demi Lovato, Songwriters: Toby Gad, Kerli Kõiv, and Lindy Robbins

”I have this feeling now, this feeling that knocks the breath right out of me, that my past has not just come looking. It has found me.”

Nora may be living with her dog, Whisper, in the basement of the building where she works for a journalist and a private investigator, but don’t judge her on that. She seems to be able to get into places where she shouldn’t be without drawing too much attention to herself, and is a pretty capable escape artist, oh, yes, and she has a unique value as their personal BS detector.

"There's a feeling I get when a lie is told. A disgust that creeps up when a liar is doing her best to muck things up or, more likely, save her own ass. Oftentimes, I can't put my finger on it; I can only tell when I see it. And years in foster care honed this skill to an art."

Nora also has a past that haunts her, an incident in her past with holes in it for her, she only recalls this in bits and pieces, and right now the result of that incident is missing. A child. One that she gave up many years ago, one that she never even held, a girl that is now a teenager, and that girl is missing.

When the adoptive parents contact Nora begging for her help, she is in shock. How could they find her? How did they find out who she was?

The girl, Bronwyn, Bonnie, has been missing for two weeks. She told her parents she was going camping – a lie, stole some money from them and now she can’t be found. The police can’t be bothered to look for her since this isn’t the first time she’s been missing. It’s never been this long, though.

Nora goes in search of her, and it takes her places she never anticipated. All her old internal demons rise up to try to pull her down with them, but Nora might be stronger than they think.

I wanted to read this, in part because I have the sequel to this one waiting for me to read, It All Falls Down. I wanted to read It All Falls Down ever since I read my goodreads friend Will’s review for that book. The timing for it was perfect since I just needed something completely different. I’m not a big fan of books that are terrifyingly scary. Tense, I’m okay with. This was tense with some moments bordering on the potential for terrifying, but never too close, and I really liked the characters, as well.

Nora, in particular, is a wonderful, complex character with a bit of a snarky, sarcastic bite to her. She made the story for me. She is a bit of a train wreck, herself, but she also has reasons for the way she views the world.

Well-written, and action packed, I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,385 reviews976 followers
February 6, 2017
I loved Eyes Like Mine – I’m not sure whether it was Nora who was spot on brilliant as an engaging and divisive main protagonist, or the themes within (as an adopted child myself I related on many levels here) or the really quite brilliant storytelling but overall this one was a huge hit with me.

Nora’s past trauma defines a lot of who she is – and she is not always someone you can love – but this novel is a journey for her that is utterly riveting and totally addictive. The author plays with many themes here, each one spreading threads throughout the telling, her characters are all authentically immersive and really well drawn, I fell into Nora’s world (and that of Whisper) very easily and barely looked up until I was done.

The mystery elements are well imagined but for me were secondary to getting to know Nora, watching her cope, or not, with everything that was thrown at her. Sheena Kamal has an excellent atmospheric writing vibe that both descriptively and decisively puts you right on the spot. The whole thing had a haunted, edgy feel to it that just really appealed to me as a reader.

I’m not sure if this will be a series but I hope so because I’d like to know what happens in the aftermath of the events of “Eyes like Mine” and carry on this journey with Nora and the rest.

Intelligent, thought provoking and beautifully written, Eyes Like Mine comes highly recommended from me.
Profile Image for Linda Strong.
3,882 reviews1,625 followers
February 17, 2017
This book initially starts with the story of a missing teenage girl, Bonnie. Her parents turn to Nora Watts for help as the police believe she just took off. What Nora learns is that Bonnie is HER daughter ...the one she gave up for adoption 15 years earlier.

The book becomes more about Nora and her life, both past and present. Nora has a gift of sorts ... she can tell when people are lying. So far, it's never let her down. And she knows that Bonnie's parents are both lying about something ... she just doesn't know what.

Nora has a horrific past. To go into detail here would be spoiler. But trust me ... that she has even survived is a testament to her strength. She's an alcoholic but she's been on the wagon for several years. She holds a job in which her gift comes is handy. On the flip side, she hates to be touched. Her sister thinks she's a hooker. She doesn't trust anyone at all. She has contacts but no friends .... unless it's Whisper. Whisper is a four-footed Heinz 57 dog that's been abandoned.

Despite wanting to walk away, she sets out to find a daughter she's never known. What she finds on this journey is a past that comes roaring into the present.

Nora is not a very likeable character. I felt sympathy and sadness for her, but I didn't like how she treated others. She often said hurtful things to people who were trying to help her. I did admire how she did the hard things ... I liked that she was a survivor who had no help from anyone. It was her own guts and determination to make a life for herself.

There are secondary characters that I disliked nearly as much. Nora's sister is a hateful person .... Nora's AA Sponsor has a history with her. He used to be a cop before alcohol took over his life. Now he has said he will help Nora ... but he has secrets. And he will be sorry when she learns what it is.

The book is powerfully written. I did like the Canadian setting. ... local flavor on steroids. This is a new author to me, and I look forward to following future books.

Many thanks to the author / Bonnier Zaffre / Netgalley for the digital copy of EYES LIKE MINE. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
Profile Image for Paul Weiss.
1,182 reviews123 followers
January 4, 2023
“ … girls who look like me are more likely to go missing,
and less likely to have their disappearances investigated.”


Nora Watts is a character that no reader will forget any time soon and no mistake. A typical Canadian aboriginal woman in so many ways – all the wrong ways. In and out of foster care as a young girl; an alcoholic who’s off the wagon as often as she’s on; a survivor of assault that put her within an inch of a one way trip down Canada’s notorious Highway of Tears; father dead by suicide and her mother's whereabouts unknown; a young mother herself, who gave up her own unwanted baby for adoption; not quite homeless but no fixed address and more savvy street person than not; and a fighter with an attitude problem and a chip on her shoulder that resents authority of any kind.

It would be difficult to imagine a character with a tougher row to hoe in life than Nora Watts.

But, like Jeffery Deaver’s character, Kathryn Dance, Watts has an uncanny natural skill in kinesics – the ability to read non-verbal cues and to tell, with almost unerring accuracy, when a speaker is lying and when they are telling the truth. As an assistant to a well-respected private investigation firm, that skill has come in handy on a number of occasions. But Watts is shocked to her toes when she is asked to investigate the disappearance of a couple’s runaway, angsty, hormonal adopted teenage daughter whom they claim is Watt’s real daughter.

Determining why her daughter ran away from her adoptive parents was easy enough but determining why she remains out of sight and impossible to find is a different story again. While Kamal’s plot is somewhat over-the-top, there’s no denying that it is gripping and makes for some compelling reading. And, on a side note, her treatment of the nature of alcoholism, is at once sad and eye-opening. Kamal’s treatment of homegrown racism against indigenous women, misogyny, rape and alcoholism coupled with a compelling (if somewhat overwrought) plot line make THE LOST ONES a great debut for Nora Watts. Next in line, IT ALL FALLS DOWN, has already been added to my TBR list.

Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss
Profile Image for Sarah Joint.
445 reviews985 followers
February 10, 2017
A smart and well written debut with a fascinating and unique protagonist. I'm looking forward to the next one. There's no too perfect to be real characters here. Everyone is damaged and flawed. The lead character won't be sauntering around in heels and designer clothes anytime soon. She's gritty and badass, not always likeable but always interesting.

The phone rings early in the morning, and there's a desperate voice on the other line. He wants Nora to meet him. He needs her help. She agrees because she's intrigued, thinking it's work related. She works as an assistant of sorts for a PI. To her surprise, the man was calling about the baby she gave up for adoption fifteen years ago. She's gone missing... and she had been expressing interest in finding her birth parents before she disappeared. They are disappointed when Nora knows nothing... and Nora is shaken by the news. They show her a photograph... and she's struck by her eyes. The same unusually dark pools she sees when she looks in the mirror.

From there she begins on a journey that will have her chasing ghosts, trying to come to terms with her past, and find the daughter she didn't want. It's all very dark, bleak, and intense. Nora is an unforgettable character... sometimes violent and unpredictable but always a survivor.

I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and Bonnier Zaffre, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.
Profile Image for William.
675 reviews314 followers
October 1, 2017
Extraordinary book. Amazing and powerful.
(Published as The Lost Ones and as Eyes Like Mine)

Sheena Kamal has given us a new protatonist, Nora Watts, who is badly flawed, traumatised, but so very strong.

Warning: There are some very brief scenes later in the book of a child medically abused. The short chapter IV.8 can be skipped safely.



The first few chapters of the book are a bit rough, with somewhat uneven pacing. You often see this in first-time authors, but Kamal recovers by Chapter 10 and is extraordinary from that point on.

Nora is suddenly completely realised, like Athena springing fully formed from the head of Zeus. Wow.
Sometimes when I wake up, I dig out an old hand mirror and stare at my reflection in it. My face always comes as a shock to me. Like a vampire, I avoid looking at myself in mirrors....
... ...
All I see now is a dusky wraith descending into middle age but with none of the milestones that usually go along with it. I cringe at the woman staring back at me in the dim morning light that filters reluctantly into the room....
... ...
There’s nothing more invisible than the middle-aged woman, and there’s no denying that middle age is creeping up in time with the descent of my ass, a sort of inverse gravitational relationship....
... ...
Compared to some people, I am all right. Compared to others, I am an ex-alcoholic survivor, sober off and on for thirteen years, celibate for just as long, who owns no property, has no friends, and spends her nights wandering the city with no one to love except a dog that is perpetually in heat. Compared to those people, I am one country song away from leaping off a bridge....
... ...
I need a drink so bad that my stomach is in knots. I’m shocked at how my body can remember how good it feels to be buzzed. How it’s always the one escape that I long for when everything else that I touch turns to shit.
It's such an honour to read a first-time author who has real talent and a powerful story to tell. Honestly, I see this in perhaps only 1-in-20 new authors. Kamal is the real deal and I can't wait to read her future books (agonising for a year between, as usual!)

The prose is wonderful: well-paced, intense and very visual. The main character throughout is Nora, with support by the damaged cop, Brazuca, who was also her one-time AA sponsor. Their relationship is very complex and very realistic. You do fully believe in them.

Mostly this is an internal journey for Nora, set as a jewel inside a noir-ish kidnap case.

Note that there is an IMdB entry for Ms. Kamal; apparently she has done some tv writing and supporting acting, including a series "Red Moon" which I have not seen. Clearly this experience has boosted her writing skills.

Ms. Kamal brings the seedy-side of the city of Vancouver and the beauty of the country-side British Colombia alive for us, with enough realpolitik to show life on the streets there, for both the poor and the now-struggling middle classes.

Vancouver, just like the rest of the modern world:
Vancouver has supposedly become a hedge city where rich foreigners park their assets, drive up housing values, and price out the middle class, all while underreporting their overseas incomes to relieve their tax burden.

Interestingly, Nora's "special gift" - her dark eyes able to see lies directly, is not a major feature of this book. Mostly the resolution of this book attests to the sheer grit of Nora, even at her worst, struggling to make things right, and failing often. Powerful stuff.

There is a great action scene about half-way through the book, perfectly balance, not overwritten or silly. The final action scene is chaotic and powerful, but you do believe that Nora has such intensity that she can overcome such horrible physical beatings.

The final third of the book is not easy reading, but it is wonderfully written. See my (hidden) spoiler at the top of the page to understand why this book is 5x more powerful for me, personally.

Well done, Sheena Kamal.

(And I agree fully with my friend Will Byrne's final comment about her: "Yes, a Star is Born")

===
Rain and the Blues. Sheena discusses the music of the book and the city.

A bit of background by Sheena Kamal



10% ... Selections below from a wonderful chapter 10.
Kamal’s true voice apparent just now after struggling in earlier chapters.
This is always my favourite part of reading a new author, when they relax and open their hearts and let their true voice show. Wow.

Nora:
Sometimes when I wake up, I dig out an old hand mirror and stare at my reflection in it. My face always comes as a shock to me. Like a vampire, I avoid looking at myself in mirrors.... ... ...

All I see now is a dusky wraith descending into middle age but with none of the milestones that usually go along with it. I cringe at the woman staring back at me in the dim morning light that filters reluctantly into the room.... ... ...

There’s nothing more invisible than the middle-aged woman, and there’s no denying that middle age is creeping up in time with the descent of my ass, a sort of inverse gravitational relationship.... ... ...

Compared to some people, I am all right. Compared to others, I am an ex-alcoholic survivor, sober off and on for thirteen years, celibate for just as long, who owns no property, has no friends, and spends her nights wandering the city with no one to love except a dog that is perpetually in heat. Compared to those people, I am one country song away from leaping off a bridge.... ... ...

I need a drink so bad that my stomach is in knots. I’m shocked at how my body can remember how good it feels to be buzzed. How it’s always the one escape that I long for when everything else that I touch turns to shit.



11.0% ... Wonderful chapter, self-examination, sharp and somewhat sad

15.0% .... WOW. From chapter 10 on, this is REALLY GOOD

35.0% ... this is very good stuff. A growing sense of peril, complexity and trust stretched among friends. Top quality. (After chapter 9)

49.0% .... this doesn’t read like a first novel at all. Wow. I’m going to be on Kamal like white on rice for years. Extraordinary stuff

52.0% ... just like the rest of the modern world:
Vancouver has supposedly become a hedge city where rich foreigners park their assets, drive up housing values, and price out the middle class, all while underreporting their overseas incomes to relieve their tax burden.

71.0% ... wow, the book has taken a dark and painful turn. Very real, very well-written, very aware of the reality of the traumas Nora is living again and again. Extraordinary book.

78.0% ... Warning. A short chapter IV.8 contains a distressing scene with a child. You can skip this chapter if you wish.

.
Profile Image for fleurette.
1,304 reviews107 followers
August 5, 2021
Wow, that's a great book. I haven't heard about it or about this author before, but it turned out to be a great story.

This is an excellent example of a book in which a very complicated heroine is presented through a plotline. The book focuses mainly on the plot and this is how we get to know the main character, Nora, and her difficult life. And it must be admitted that Nora is a complex main character who has been through a lot in her life. This makes her really fascinating. Some people find it hard to like her. It may be true, but I think that it is very easy to sympathize with her. I also liked that all of Nora's unusual abilities stem from her life experiences.

I liked the whole story too. The idea is in fact pretty cliche - the daughter, whom Nora gave up for adoption many years ago and with whom she did not maintain any contact, is missing. A story we have read so many times. But the author was able to give this idea a second life. She led the story in unexpected directions. She surprised me more than once. And at the same time, she also managed to show complicated human relationships, those in the family and not only.

To some extent, I even like the ending of this story. It's definitely not too sweet, just very realistic. But only one like this would fit perfectly in this story, which is most of the time brutally honest and devoid of romanticism.
March 11, 2018
Eyes Like Mine is a brutally brilliant shot of Canadian noir with a damaged and uncompromising lead protagonist and is a darkly atmospheric and original thriller. A classy debut, this is everything I like about a thriller and at the top of that list is a substantial plot that demands the readers attention. This is not a sit back and switch off formulaic thriller but a journey that engages, with a spiky first-person narrative that tells a story that takes its readers from the seedier end of Vancouver in winter through to the breathtaking beauty of Vancouver Island and into the heart of the powerful mining companies that have tapped the countries rich geology.

Research assistant to a small private investigation outfit in downtown Vancouver, mixed-race Nora Watts is on her second coffee of a new day but it does nothing to make amends for the raw deal she has had in life. The 5 a.m. phone call and the grief of a couple in search of their missing daughter is unlikely to improve her lot, particularly when she is hit with the news that the missing girl is the child that she gave up for adoption fifteen years ago after a brutal rape left her pregnant. Quickly pulled back into a dark past that she is still unable to process and against her better sense and judgement Nora is impelled to act and a quick recce reveals this is no simple runaway child case given the high-end security operatives of WIN Securities are also on her tail. What can have made the fifteen-year-old chronic runaway Bonnie (Bronwyn) Walsh, adopted daughter of Kerrisdale dwelling architects Everett and Lynn Walsh, such a priority? Clearly not simply pilfering money or pushing the boundaries of sex and drug experimentation. Having tracked Nora down after Bonnie had showed a growing interest in meeting her birth mother the Walsh’s seem to be of the opinion that their adopted child has “tossed away their nurture” and made a beeline for Nora’s nature..

As Nora goes from tracking down Bonnie’s would be gangster teenage boyfriend to infiltrating the security operatives following the girls trail she slowly works back to figure out who has instigated the unofficial investigation of WIN Security. Slowly Nora pieces together a story that will lead her back to the brutal memories of her horrific ordeal and in order to save Bonnie she will be forced to overcome her very darkest fears. Coming head to head with hired guns who shoot first and ask questions later, Nora must engage her brain and her brawn in a case which takes her into the world of the ruthless mining magnates who are happy to employee the labour of the indigenous population but turn a blind eye to the many indigenous young women who disappear with alarming frequency. But as an ex-alcoholic who has seen more than she should have after her mother fled, her father committed suicide and she was left for dead in the woods, Nora Watts is nothing if not a survivor. Well aware that no one raised the alarm for her own disappearance can Nora really sit by and rely on someone else coming to Bonnie’s aid? As much as she never wanted to be a mother Nora cannot deny that Bonnie occupies a growing space in her conscience.

Confrontational, suspicious and subversive Nora makes no apologies for her unrefined methods and sharp edges with quick recourse to violence, yet her behaviour is understandable and justifiable given the harrowing course that her life has taken. It is no wonder that she has trust issues given how she has shielded her three years younger sister, Lorelei, from bearing witness to much of a tough childhood. So whilst Nora isn’t always likeable she quickly manages to engage reader’s empathy and sympathy. Her self-deprecating humour and knack for an understatement does much to draw the reader in and the more we are shown of her background, the more I vied for her. Much of Nora’s physical aggression attracts so much mention simply because it is perhaps not expected of a female character, but similarly Nora does not fit comfortably as a stereotypical female with scant regard for her appearance and a distinctive lack of femininity and this is yet another reason for her outsider status.

An incredible debut, even more so for that fact that this novel is not without its faults and Sheena Kamal has room for improvement. Admittedly many of Nora’s escapades are overly reliant on fortuitous circumstances and others far-fetched and the starting premise requires a hefty chunk of background information to be filled in as the novel progresses and risks readers tuning out. However the converse to this is that by holding back choice information and drip feeding the more compelling facts, Eyes Like Mine soon rewards its readers for investing in the story. Nora’s background is relayed over the course of the novel and in exposing these aspects it allows a handle of her complete dissociation from any kind of cultural heritage to be fully illustrated.

Guaranteed, Nora Watts won’t be the first to break eye contact - resilient, flawed and a very distinctive voice for Sheena Kamal’s impassioned social conscience, Eyes Like Mine is an astonishing debut that steers clear of being preachy. Living in the basement of her offices and with experience of sleeping rough and a knowledge of environmental activism the obvious background to the story has been researched. Sheena Kamal ratchets up the pace brilliantly in the final third of the novel and much of a grandstanding finale unfolds in a last gasp and urgent frenzy as she admirably sidesteps the tendency of debut authors to deliver the saccharine sweet happy ending. Much like Nora’s story which isn’t neat and tidy, the honest and raw conclusion is messy but wonderfully fitting. Visceral, bold and propulsive storytelling that showcases the Canadian setting and fizzes with native colour.

With many thanks to my good friend and book reviewer, Miriam Smith, who kindly shared a copy of this novel with me.
Profile Image for Taryn.
1,199 reviews189 followers
August 16, 2017
This is one mystery/thriller that I enjoyed despite not being terribly invested in the mystery itself. I was, however, captivated by the main character, Nora, and the more minor characters in her orbit. I think we can all agree the whole “P.I. with a substance abuse problem” thing has been done to death, but somehow Kamal makes the tired patterns seem fresh, and before I knew it I was rooting for Nora to both solve the mystery of her daughter’s disappearance and reckon with what happened to her 15 years ago that produced the daughter in the first place.

I found the emotional, human side of the ending to be far more interesting than the factual resolution of the case—but I suppose that’s a good thing. In my experience, thrillers read one after the other can start to all feel the same, so when I’m in the mood for a mystery, I often look for authors from diverse backgrounds or settings wildly different from my own Midwestern environs. Kamal’s book is set in western Canada and features a protagonist of mixed ethnicity. Both the setting and Nora’s ambiguous background feature prominently in the story and drive a lot of the action. (I gathered that Vancouver winters are very wet.)

Also, there’s a really awesome dog named Whisper, and who doesn’t love a P.I. with a canine sidekick?

More book recommendations by me at www.readingwithhippos.com
Profile Image for Kirsty ❤️.
918 reviews44 followers
February 6, 2017
This was one dark book. A great noir. Nora is approached by the adopted parents of the baby she gave away to find her after she goes missing. What follows while she embarks on teh search for the missing child is the dark, depressing life story of Nora. She has gone through so much in life - a father who committed suicide, absent mother, care homes, rape, became an alcoholic and is now living in her employers basement. At one point near the end someone calls her a victim and she responds the word is 'survivor' and after reading this yes she is one tough cookie.

The missing girl is almost an afterthought as it quickly becomes clear that the child (Bonnie) has been taken because of her blood links to Nora and the events that led to her birth. It's not a random kidnapping and in the end the part she plays in the book is just to push the story along and give Nora something to do while she recounts her tale.

It's a taut book, very bleak writing. There's hardly any light hearted moments in it. In fact when Nora cracks a joke the author comments how rare a thing it is and that Nora can barely remember smiling even herself. It doesn't even have an uplifting ending. Despite the girl being found nothing has really changed in Nora's life except the acceptance of who she is. She makes no grand realisations that she will return to rehab or try and make any changes to her life. She is who she is. And I kinda like that. Not every take needs a Hollywood ending. Just one with a satisfying conclusion and in that the author did not fail.

I really enjoyed it. It made for a different pace and style to some of the books I have read recently. This is the authors debut novel I believe and I'm looking forward to what she can do in the future.
Profile Image for Joanne Robertson.
1,349 reviews549 followers
February 7, 2017
Now this is an interesting one. I don’t think comparisons to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo do this book many favours and may put a few readers off trying it. I thought Nora, a feisty but ultimately damaged protagonist, was far more intriguing than I was expecting and quite unlike any heroine I have come across in a while. It actually took me a while to “get” her but once I did I also found her to be much more likeable than I had anticipated.

It was the blurb on the cover that attracted me to Eyes Like Mine. I found it to be a fresh and intriguing idea for a plot which was well conceived and followed through with the storyline opening up to the reader at the same time as Nora. Coming face to face with her daughter’s adoptive parents would have been difficult enough for Nora but having them approach her in her capacity as a private investigator gave a interesting twist to what could have been a straight forward “missing girl” plot. Indeed when Nora does investigate further it looks like what happened to her in the past may be hindering her search more than she realises. Can the past ever stay hidden when there are secrets to be laid bare?

I loved Nora and how, even though she thinks she’s not good enough and her strength of personality may be hidden from most, the little things in her live were obviously really the big things. And although she prefers not to have attachments, shutting out the world never quite works when you let a dog into your life, especially one with a better “social life” than you.

This has a claustrophobic, dark and gloomy feel right from the start, there isn’t much joy to spread around as the finale looms with it’s twists and turns but it doesn’t feel disheartening and actually left me feeling rather uplifted and full of hope for the future. In fact the ending was handled far better than expected. As in real life, sometimes not all ends can be tied. A stunning debut!

Many thanks to Zaffre for my review copy of Eyes Like Mine.
Profile Image for Bookread2day.
2,172 reviews64 followers
March 3, 2017
Eyes Like Mine is a female-driven psychological suspense novel.
Bonnie Bronwyn went missing two weeks ago. She has run away before. Everett Walsh and his wife Lynn thought Bonnie was going camping with friends. But she lied and stole all the money that they had in the house and a bank card. Everett and Lyn think that Bonnie has been drinking and taking drugs. Bonnie was obsesses with finding her biological parent, she had been on one the sites that reunite adopted children with their biological parents. Nora Watts gave up her child for adoption fifteen years ago, she isn't sure if she wants help find the missing teenager Bonnie. But when she sees the photograph of Bonnie how can Nora turn her back on her? Nora Watts is a new heroine for our time.
Profile Image for Ann Girdharry.
Author 15 books461 followers
February 16, 2017
I really wanted to like this book and worked hard to get to like the main character, Nora. I really like 'bad' characters and thought this one would be up my street.

Unfortunately, it didn't work for me. I found her mixture of alcoholism and general aggressiveness a bit too much and her abuse of another character in the book (Bradzuca), really turned my stomach.

I also found the final scenes unbelievable. Sorry, this wasn't for me.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,431 reviews179 followers
May 16, 2020
3.5 stars. Much as I found watching Nora Watts’ self-destructive tendencies and actions, I found her a compelling protagonist as she goes through hell (attacks, misinformation, her own painful memories from her foster care experiences, her later brutal assault, rape, coma and consequent unwanted pregnancy, alcoholism and complete mistrust of others, except for her dog) to locate her kidnapped 15-year old daughter that she gave up for adoption after her pregnancy.
The case involves the adoptive parents, a security company, a shady doctor from Nora’s past, and a large mining company. So, a complicated case that takes Nora all over Vancouver, the interior, and the Island.
And much as I found Nora difficult, I enjoyed this tense story.
Profile Image for Shalini.
2,476 reviews199 followers
December 28, 2017
The story goes something like this, a phone call about a missing child, who has eyes like the protagonist, Nora. And that starts the ball rolling with the past and present clashing up with Nora right in the middle of it.
The author, Sheena Kamal has walked the off-beaten path where main character is a recovering alcoholic investigator, who keeps falling off the bandwagon. She is so non-descriptive that throughout the book, I searched for her facets, to understand her better. The only person who wholeheartedly loved her was her dog cum partner, Whisper. They make such an unlikely likable combination.
The book works only because of the raw grittiness of the protagonist, she is everything never seen in a main character, but she is everything seen in a woman who has touched the murky depths of the abyss, yet has risen up only by the sheer strength of her will power. She just refuses to curl away and give up.
The main character, Nora is fascinating, I could almost never take my eyes off her. The other characters, too drift in and out of the story, and they do a fairly decent job. But Nora outshines them all by being so ordinary both in description and thoughts but extraordinary in her determination.
There are a few niggles, I took 4 days to finish this book, and that is because the tension is not well maintained in the book. Every time there is an interesting occurrence, instead of completing that sequence, the author goes into detailed background explanation. That dilutes the whole pumped up curiosity. At one point I switched over to another novel. At others, I was left screaming - get to the point. Soon I learnt to skip over the explanation and get to the main story.
The plot line is fantastic, filled with missing daughter, medical mystery, a beaten-up protagonist, powerful villains, murder, abuse, investigation and a wonderful dog and partner, Whisper. But the delivery could have been way better. Still it does make good reading for a debut.
This book embodies a real truth, a mother's love for her child, arises from the soul, even if that child has been unwanted and given away.
The womb, the heart, and the blood speaks when actions do not...
Profile Image for Hannah.
608 reviews1 follower
December 19, 2017
I wanted to like this book. I REALLY wanted to like this book. It features Nora Watts, a secretary/private investigator from Canada. She is a recovering alcoholic with only a dog for a companion. She gets a call from a set of parents who are frantic to recover their missing daughter. However, there's a catch. The 15-year-old girl is adopted. She was given up by Nora years ago.

It's intriguing and it starts out really well. You meet Nora and she's very upfront about the many layers to her life and that...well none of them are pretty. But after a while, her voice and character grate on my nerves. She doesn't trust anyone and even after people go out of their way to help her, she still lies and steals from them.

The mystery of her daughter is a good one, but there are some sub-plots that I didn't like and the book could easily have done without. So you have a mystery that is okay, with a anti-hero who is horrible to everyone, and a lot of secondary characters who could be interesting but since the main character throws them away, we never get to learn a lot about them.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 763 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.