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Lost Souls [Hardcover]



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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Irishman who knows our local history..... Oct. 7 2004
By Bill Higgins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This was my first reading of a work by Michael Collins, who I met at an informal book signing in Dowagiac, MI. He has somewhat adopted this small town, approximately 25 miles north of Notre Dame University where he had a athletic scholarship to run on their cross county team and graduated from their Creative Writing School. He is truly representative of the "fighting Irish" as he was born and raised in Limerick, Ireland.

Lost Souls is a murder who-done-it that will keep you turning the pages to find out the next twist, which to me, is one important test of a mystery novel along with not too much side-show but enough to know where you are and who the people in story are. This is the book to take on your next trip or maybe tonight, if you want to read something you can't put down...and this is even the time of year to tie-in with the story, Halloween!

Collins use of a small Midwestern town, maybe not unlike Dowagiac, provides a comfortable feel for plain surroundings and easy to identify characters. There is a level of realism in the way the author develops the characters which reminded me of folks I've met along the way.

He takes us on a journey, begun with the murder of a child dressed for tick or treat but it is only the first of many murders. It is told to us by Lawrence the local cop, who himself is going through many life crisis. He seems to know what he should do but at each fork in the road he takes the easy path, yet his life continues to spin out of control. We meet some people who are suspects not just to the murders but doing their best to cover up the facts. They like Lawrence have their own demons and Michael gently inserts many clues to help or not, yet urges us on to the next chapter to find out more.

This is not an Irish author writing a small town Midwestern mystery but an author who knows about story telling. In the best tradition of Irish writers he is able to tell us a story without the pain and suffering from the old sod about his adopted land. There is something special in those Irish genes for spinning a great yarn!

I am sure we will be reading much from this very talented writer. Lost Souls is well worth your reading and I look forward to his next book

Bill Higgins

Higgins721@aol.com
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a Book about a Total Loser! June 30 2006
By mijcar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I think the time I spent reading this book might better have been spent in a coma.

Don't get me wrong. Sure, the book is noir fiction; but I enjoy good dark fiction as much as anyone. If you want a good example of the genre, read any of Ross McDonald's mysteries or the much under-rated Saratoga series by Stephen Dobyns.

And it's not that the anti-hero is an alcoholic. As long as he can drop into an AA program and tack on some self-awareness, he's got my blessing. Try reading some of Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder novels; or James Lee Burke's Robicheaux series for a taste of that.

And it's not that the ending is inconclusive. I was totally satisfied by Thomas H. Cook's brilliant novel, "The Interrogation".

What it is about this book is that nothing is redemptive, nothing lifts the book up in any way. The narrator is an unremorseful alcoholic who entertains the conceit that he is a refugee, thereby demeaning virtually every refugee on the planet; the narrator is a loser. Very literally: he has lost his wife, his son. In the course of the book, through sheer obstinate stupidity, he loses his dog, his future, his credibility, his integrity, and whatever few remaining IQ points he had at the beginning of the novel.

The lose ends at the novel's end are painful: a girl has been murdered, it seems ritualistically, but we never know who committed the murder, only who has taken the blame. A woman is missing -- we are told by one character that she is safe but have no evidence of this, and in fact clues seems to imply the opposite. The narrator who has not made one correct deduction through the entire course of the novel expects us to trust his belief that he has been given reliable information by a character whose very choices makes her an unlikely candidate for reliable revelations.

I know that this book has been lauded by some. It has a bleakness that might be mistaken for truth or clarity of vision; but here the bleakness is a cheap, contrived bleakness, the bleakness that comes from the eyes of the beholder, the unreliable narrator of this book, the alcoholic who must find the flaw, even if none exists, in every person he meets, especially if anything in their life transcends the facts of his own existence. Yeah, yeah, yeah: I know that small towns can be insular and smothering, that in real life people are often mean-minded and blind to truth, that entire communities can be that way. Duh! Did Collins think he was on to something the rest of us was missing? Did he see some underlying truth of the human condition we never knew was there? If so, he certainly failed to convey it.

If you want to read about all-pervading loss of hope, despair that tears at the soul, and yet sense a ribbon of humanity beneath it, then find the novels of Graham Greene, all of them, and start reading.

As for this novel, if you have a bird cage ...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet Nightmare Aug. 23 2004
By Charles (Chicago) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In a seamless story of actual loss (the death of a child), and a more ethereal emotional loss that permeates this sad, but honest, novel, author Michael Collins, continues to mine a slice of the American psyche we may not want to stare into. Lost Souls is David Lynch's Blue Velvet meets Mystic River, a surreal realism that takes readers into the dark psyche of a town.

Bleakness permeates this novel, a cop who has pulled a gun on his wife, divorced and unable to pay child support, a cop who is pulled into a cover up of a supposed hit and run on Halloween night in a small mid-west town. The inevitable trajetory of the novel is not hidden, but what Collins does is take us deep into the sense of despair and moral crisis facing so many people in economic ruination. There are trenchant passages of brilliant insight within this novel, and amidst a surreal story where the bodies pile up, Collins pulls off an uncanny, and amazing masterpiece of literary suspense.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Writing, but geez Oct. 20 2004
By Gerald Bland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I hate to go against the grain of all the other reviews on this page written by much more articulate readers than me. Yeah, this guy can write like only a few other authors I've read. Beautiful prose. But about half way through this book, I started hoping that the main character would either go ahead and suicide or get to an AA meeting. I mean, the despair was just relentless. And being a refugee from small town America myself, I can certainly recognize a few of the characters, but dam! every citizen in this town is a cretin. It's like that photographer, Diane Arbus or whoever, and how she was able to photograph probably a fairly normal person and bring out something sort of funky and corrupt in them. I will probably read more by Michael Collins, if just for the writing, but I'll approach the book with a bit more distance.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Despair, Depression, Complete Passivity Nov. 17 2009
By Frank Blank - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I could not figure out how the writer spent 6-12 months of his life with a character who thought so little and did nothing. Lawrence's alcoholism didn't bother me, this bothered me: someone kills his dog and tries to kill him: he doesn't try to find out who did it, he tells no one, he barely thinks about it.

And that's just the extreme example of his characteristic response to pretty much everything. It is as if Collins set himself the task to write a battered woman as a male cop and make the battered cop the hero of a "crime novel". And justify it with the "noir" tag. But I should qualify that: plenty of battered women show more spunk and initiative that our hero. All it is is a relatively un-insightful account on a man sliding into depression.
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