Rating: If you’re so inclined, or you shouldn’t
I love thrillers and police procedurals. So much. Law and Order is a staple in my life – feeling anxious? watch the predictable unfolding of 44 minutes. With Andrew Pyper’s *Lost Girls” (see a few posts ago for his Demonologist) I wanted to be swept up and riveted by the book. The back cover made me hopeful. The early chapters even more so. But, like the Demonologist, the premise and the opening salvo left so much to be desired.
In reading the acknowledgements (aside: I *love* the acknowledgements in novels. I wish they were longer – see Dave Eggers’ acknowledgements in AHWOSG for a good model – just kidding, but not really) I noticed that Pyper had previously published sections of the novel in journals. I suspect (because the book makes me a detective?) that the few chapters at the beginning – briefly returned later in the novel – focused on the young kids at the lake was a brilliantly written and published short story. But the rest of the novel that tries to take this exceptional opening premise and extend it is just… not good.
The suspense isn’t suspenseful. I don’t care about our protagonist. I don’t believe his fear. Even if I did, I don’t care whether he’s scared. The unbelievable elements – ghost woman at the lake who steals children – is introduced as a ghost story within the narrative, not as something compelling or real in her own right. As a result the story-within-a-story that lacks the thematic depth that you might expect from a story-within-a-story and instead serves a simple plot purpose: to introduce the complicating “ghostly” element of the murder mystery. It’s a weak way to introduce this element and that the rest of the plot is premised on this weak element means that well… the rest of the plot is similarly shoddy.
So no, I won’t read anymore Andrew Pyper. Even if all the Canadian presses keep telling me he’s all that. I get it. He’s got some great components, and I’m guessing he’s a brilliant short story writer. But going 0-2 makes me less willing to climb on board again.