Bartholomew Christian Crane is a criminal defence lawyer who wins. Thirty-three, silver-tongued and driven by a moral code that preaches, "There are no such things as lies, only misperceptions," Barth is ripe for the first murder trial of his career. Two fourteen-year-old girls have gone missing and presumably lie on the bottom of a lake just outside an economically depressed northern town. Though everyone believes the girls' English teacher is guilty, no bodies have yet been discovered and there is little other substantial evidence. As Barth begins work on a trial that quickly slides into a nightmarish blur between dream and reality, he feels an uneasy connection to the victims—and to the ghost that haunts the lake's waters. Lost Girls is an audacious, darkly comic literary thriller that catches the reader off guard at every turn, a single mystery that fractures into many, a story of ghosts both real and imagined.
Toronto resident Pyper's spell-binding debut succeeds on so many levels--as a mystery, a legal thriller, a literary character study--that's it's obvious why it was a #1 bestseller last year in Canada. Breathing new life into a modern cliche, the lawyer in need of redemption, the narrator and proudly unlikable main character is do-anything-to-win Toronto attorney Bartholomew Crane, who is assigned the "lost girls" case by his firm, Lyle, Gederov (colloquially known as "Lie, Get 'Em Off"). Two schoolgirls are missing and presumed drowned in Lake St. Christopher, in the outback of Murdoch, Ontario. The man accused of their murder is one of the girls' teachers, Thomas Tripp. Crane quickly discovers that Tripp is uncooperative and seemingly insane, blaming the girls' disappearance on the legendary ghost of a woman who drowned 50 years ago in the lake. Since there's little more than circumstantial evidence against Tripp, Crane is initially confident that he can get the man off. But that confidence dissolves as he immerses himself in the case and the history of the region. Pyper uses Crane's almost vicious self-awareness to chart the crumbling of his self-image as he binges on cocaine, goes stir-crazy in the rural town, and confronts a long-repressed tragedy from his past that bears on the case. As Crane's devastating history unfolds, it's revealed how he became such a shark; as he accepts the truth about himself and his desperate need to solve the mystery behind the ghost story, his fundamental character is illuminated-gradually, with the same restrained suspense that makes Pyper's ingeniously tight plotline so compulsively appealing. BOMC/QPB featured alternate.