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    Review of LOST GIRLS by Andrew Pyper

    Delacorte Press, May 2000

    Review by Cathy Richard Dodson (see her website)

    Attorney Bartholomew Crane isn't someone who's at home in the small town of Murdoch, where he's sent to defend a case for his Toronto law firm. The disappearance of two teenage girls seems pretty much a cut and dry case-everything points to the suspect already in jail. But Crane is one of those attorneys who doesn't care if his client is guilty or innocent-his job is to get him off. He's never had much of a problem with that attitude or making it happen-until he arrives in Murdoch.

    Even though Tripp, his client, doesn't seem to care one way or another whether he's found guilty or not, suddenly Crane finds himself needing to explore this crime and find out what happened to the girls, who were students of the defendant. His explorations pull him into a legend from the town's past, the story of a woman who died years before, drowned in the lake, her death brought about by the townspeople. The woman left a curse on the town and the local lake, and this disappearance isn't the first that's happened in the area.

    As this legal thriller turns into a ghost story, Crane is haunted by visions and memories that may or may not be from his own past. His encounters with a cold but hauntingly beautiful young woman make him wonder if she's real or just a figment of his imagination? Crane's world begins to unravel as he becomes more and more determined to find out whether his fantasies are real or not, and whether his client is guilty or not. For this first time, guilt or innocence matters to him.

    Visits to both the young girls' parents leave him with no further clues as to what might have happened to them, but when he finds a shirt belonging to his client covered with blood, he suddenly realizes Tripp is probably guilty, but he still wants-needs-to know how and why. As he's drawn even deeper into the legend of the mysterious “lake” woman, he begins to believe in the curse, and wonders if it played a part in the deaths.

    Crane finally learns the truth, and his discovery leads him to a dark tragedy from his own past. His history too, he finds, is wrapped up in Murdoch's, but unlike his client, his realization frees him at last from his self-imposed mental prison and allows him to live for the first time.

    I really enjoyed Lost Girls-it's an unique combination of legal thriller and ghost story-something I haven't seen done before. The narrative is a bit dense, but if you stay with it, the story pays off in an interesting way-although I must admit I wasn't completely surprised by the ending. Crane's transformation makes good reading and a good protagonist.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 12/02/04

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    What do you think? Too generous? Too stingy? Or did I miss the entire point? Send your comments to Give me the okay to use your name and I'll publish all the comments that fit (and don't use unprintable language).

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