What do a suburban mom, her troubled daughter, divorced brothers, former child stars, born-again Christians, and young millionaires have in common? They have all been selected to compete on Lost and Found, the daring new reality show. In teams of two, they will race across the globe -- from Egypt to England, from Japan to Sweden -- to battle for a million-dollar prize. They must decipher encrypted clues, recover mysterious artifacts, and outwit their opponents to stay in play.
Yet what started as a lark turns deadly serious as the number of players is whittled down, temptations beckon, and the bonds between partners strain and unravel. The question now is not only who will capture the final prize, but at what cost.
Luckily, this novel about a reality-TV show is a satire, if an often muted one. Addressing the comedy and tragedy of missed connections, bestseller Parkhurst (The Dogs of Babel) uses the forum of Lost and Found, an Amazing Race type competition, for a mostly somber (but occasionally very funny) set of character studies. As two-person teams journey from Egypt to Japan to Scandinavia, the carefully constructed, TV-ready personae of the competitors slowly unravel. Employing a constantly shifting perspective, Parkhurst admirably juggles a large cast of characters, with a number of competitors emerging as standouts: squabbling mother and daughter Laura and Cassie, tormented by a secret neither of them wants to publicly acknowledge; Justin and Abby, an "ex-gay" married couple wrestling with unruly desire; and Juliet, a former child star desperately angling for a return to the limelight. Parkhurst treats the game show as an opportunity for the contestants to decide, as the producer asks of them, "What have you found?" The answer for readers: heart and wit to spare.