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Lost Boy Lost Girl Hardcover – Large Print, Jun 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Chivers; large type edition edition (June 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0754095541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0754095545
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

For its high artistry and uncanny mix of dread and hope, Straub's 16th novel, his shortest in decades, reaffirms the author's standing as the most literate and, with his occasional coauthor Stephen King, most persuasive of contemporary novelists of the dark fantastic. This brilliant variation on the haunted house tale distills themes and characters from Straub's long career, including two of the author's most popular creations: Manhattan novelist Tim Underhill (from Koko, Mystery and The Throat) and Tim's friend, legendary private detective Tom Pasmore (from Mystery and The Throat). Written from multiple viewpoints, the narrative shuttles disturbingly through time and space as Tim travels home to Millhaven, Ill., to attend the funeral for his sister-in-law, a suicide. In that small city based loosely on Straub's hometown of Milwaukee, Tim spends time with his callow widowed brother, Philip, and his nephew, sensitive Mark, 15, who found his mother's naked body in the bathtub, wrists slit and a plastic bag over her head. Meanwhile, a serial killer is snatching teen boys from a local park, and Mark and his sidekick, Jimbo, begin to explore a nearby abandoned house. Mark grows obsessed with the house, eventually revealed as the rotting source of the evil that stalks Millhaven, but also as the harbor of a great marvel. When Mark disappears, Tim pursues his trail and, with Tom Pasmore's help, that of the serial killer who may have taken the boy away. Straub remains a master of place and character; his insight into teens, in particular, is astonishingly astute. His myriad narrative framings allow multiple interpretations of events, making this story work on many levels, yet they also increase the urgency of the story, up to its incandescent ending. With great compassion and in prose as supple as mink, Straub has created an exciting, fearful, wondrous tale about people who matter, in one of his finest books to date.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Once more, Straub employs the scene (Millhaven, Illinois) and the protagonists--'nam-vet novelist Tim Underhill and rich, super-attentive and -intuitive P.I. Tom Pasmore--of his hefty best-sellers Koko (1988), Mystery (1989), and The Throat (1993). Relegating Pasmore to the secondary cast and using Tim as both first-person recorder of events and third-person general narrator, Straub explores two appalling tragedies. Tim's sister-in-law, Nancy, an appealing woman whom many pity for marrying ill-tempered Philip Underhill, kills herself for no apparent reason. Mere days later, Philip and Nancy's handsome 15-year-old, Mark, disappears. Since a serial killer has been "disappearing" middle-teen boys from the park in which Mark and his best friend, Jimbo, hung out nights, the worst is feared. With Pasmore working behind the scenes, Tim sets out to understand his two losses. Mostly, he must get Jimbo to reveal all that he knows. As he succeeds with the boy, Tim discovers that in the abandoned house across the alley from Philip and Nancy's are the keys to the puzzles of her death, Mark's vanishing, and other mysteries. Much of what Tim learns is hideous, but some of it points to transcendent redemption for Mark and a girl who disappeared long ago in even grislier circumstances. This is the great novel of the supernatural Straub has always had it in him to write, one as beautiful, moving, and spiritually rich as the best stories in his dazzling collections Houses without Doors (1990) and Magic Terror (2000). Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Nancy Underhill's death had been unexpected, abrupt-a death like a slap in the face. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover
Though I've had problems with his novels in the past, with his sixteenth (winner of the 2003 Bram Stoker award for best novel), Peter Straub has brought me back into the fold. Any writer who can combine all the best elements of mystery, horror, haunted house, serial killer, and literary fiction into an emotional rollercoaster with a heart, like lost boy lost girl, deserves as wide a readership as he can get.
When his sister-in-law dies "without warning" (which he finds is a euphemism for suicide), bestselling horror novelist Tim Underhill (Straub doppelganger and recurring character along with Tom Pasmore of the recent "Blue Rose" novels Koko, Mystery, and The Throat) flies back home to Millhaven, Ill. to be with his brother, Philip, and 15-year-old nephew, Mark. Not long after Tim returns home, he gets a frantic call from Philip with the news that Mark has disappeared. And evidence points to the idea that the long-empty house at 3323 North Michigan Avenue once owned by serial killer Joseph Kalendar may have had something to do with both.
Ever since Julia, Peter Straub has joined the ranks of subtle horror, patterning himself after the writings of masters like Henry James while retaining his own modern sensibilities. lost boy lost girl represents the peak of his craft's development. It takes after such supernatural thrillers as The Turn of the Screw while remaining firmly in the present day.
While telling an essentially linear story, Straub jumps back and forth from past to present and from one point of view to another. Tim Underhill is the central character but the emotional core lies in young Mark, whose life is the most affected by the events in the story.
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Format: Hardcover
What do writers do? They remake the world as they see it, telling a lie so convincing that for a while -- or maybe forever -- we believe that it is the truth.
Straub's "lost boy lost girl" is a perfect example of this. It's the shortest book Straub has written in years -- just short of 300 pages -and yet it is at once his most unnerving and most poignant novel. And it gives a whole new meaning to the critic's cliche about a book "working on different levels."
Tim Underhill, a character who has appeared in several of Straub's other novels, including "Mystery" and "Koko," is returning to his hometown of Millhaven, Wisconsin. His sister-in-law has just died (only later does Tim realize that she committed suicide), and he is concerned about the well-being of his 15-year-old nephew, Mark.
That concern takes on an even greater urgency, when Tim learns that Millhaven is being plagued by a serial killer whose victims are all teen-aged boys.
(...)
Straub has incorporated into this short tale elements of just about every kind of thriller -- serial killer, ghost story, haunted house, the great detective, the master criminal, crimes of the past affecting the present -- and the sense of reality within this novel keeps shifting with subtle and disquieting shudders, as the atmosphere of the scenes fluctuate and point of view changes.
One can read "lost boy lost girl" as a dark fantasy, and come away from it completely satisfied. But that's not the very simple and tragic story really being told in "lost boy lost girl."
At one point, one character reacts to the fantastic aspects of this story by saying, "Yeah, that happens all the time. In books, maybe."
To which Tim Underhill, the novelist, replies, "Exactly.
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Format: Hardcover
I was a little disappointed with Peter Straub's latest "Blue Rose"-inspired novel, LOST BOY LOST GIRL. For the most part, it just doesn't rise to the occasion, and ultimately comes off too effervescent and vague for its own good.

When the novel was released last fall amid a flurry of positive press (including a glowing review in Entertainment Weekly) I was only too eager to rejoin Tim Underhill and company among the grimy, troubled streets of Milhaven, scene of the previous "Blue Rose" novels KOKO, MYSTERY, and THE THROAT (three of my alltime favorite novels) for another go-round.

This time out, unfortunately, not that much happens. The story involves the writer Tim Underhill's teenage nephew, Mark, and details the youth's obsessive fascination with an abandoned Millhaven house. As the young boy digs into the mystery of what went on in that house, the hard edges of reality get blurred and you find yourself wandering, along with Mark, along the dark twisting paths of the psyche that come seeping in from the edges.

The writing is pure Straub elegance, and as always, is a pleasure to read. Straub also revisits many of his usual themes here (exploration of the past, plumbing the inner well of guilt). The problem is that there aren't enough external goings-on in the story to hang the mantle of ephemeral spookiness on, and you end up with a feeling of much-ado-about-nothing.

If you're a devoted Straub fan, it's certainly worth picking up a copy of LOST BOY LOST GIRL (though you might want to wait for the paperback). Otherwise, I suggest you check out KOKO, the excellent beginning to the "Blue Rose" series.
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