A dark, compulsively readable psychological suspense debut, the first in a new series featuring the brilliant, fearless, chaotic, and deeply flawed Nora Watts—a character as heartbreakingly troubled, emotionally complex, and irresistibly compelling as Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander and Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole.
It begins with a phone call that Nora Watts has dreaded for fifteen years—since the day she gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. Bonnie has vanished. The police consider her a chronic runaway and aren’t looking, leaving her desperate adoptive parents to reach out to her birth mother as a last hope.
A biracial product of the foster system, transient, homeless, scarred by a past filled with pain and violence, Nora knows intimately what happens to vulnerable girls on the streets. Caring despite herself, she sets out to find Bonnie with her only companion, her mutt Whisper, knowing she risks reopening wounds that have never really healed—and plunging into the darkness with little to protect her but her instincts and a freakish ability to detect truth from lies.
The search uncovers a puzzling conspiracy that leads Nora on a harrowing journey of deception and violence, from the gloomy rain-soaked streets of Vancouver, to the icy white mountains of the Canadian interior, to the beautiful and dangerous island where she will face her most terrifying demon. All to save a girl she wishes had never been born.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Nora Watts is a survivor: of abandonment to foster care, of homelessness, of alcoholism, and of a brutal attack 15 years in the past. In her work for a private investigator, she's come to be known as the “human lie detector,” using her invisibility as a middle-aged, mixed-race woman to infiltrate unsavory situations and suss out people who consistently underestimate her. But when Nora learns that the daughter she gave up for adoption is missing, the ensuing search upends her reclusive existence. Sheena Kamal’s writing is both lyrical and relentless, making The Lost Ones impossible to put down. Dotted with surreal dream sequences, the novel reflects both Vancouver’s beauty and its seediness.
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The Lost Ones
The title belies the intensity and drama of this story. It is a nail-biter all the way through. Nora is as complex a character as one can dream up; a survivor who has a heart-wrenching, horrifying story she won’t share, nightmares she can’t shake, and consequences that have scarred her - and anyone connected to her - forever.
With no one she can turn to, ever trust, and no friends or family to help her, Nora somehow continues to survive, in spite of being hunted by pros at every turn. Why do they want to kill her?
Nora makes questionable choices, steals, lies, drinks, and hurts other people. But, with all she has endured, put in her shoes, who of us would have the stamina to survive her ordeal or have the stamina and the courage to keep going, to save another person’s life?
It is difficult to dislike Nora, despite all she does. I found myself willing her on, trying to literally provide assistance through each harrowing event. She is, after all, a survivor and one tough super hero.
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