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The Lost Ones
Cover of The Lost Ones
The Lost Ones
A Novel

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.

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.

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About the Author-
  • Sheena Kamal holds an HBA in political science from the University of Toronto, and was awarded a TD Canada Trust scholarship for community leadership and activism around the issue of homelessness. Kamal has also worked as a crime and investigative journalism researcher for the film and television industry—academic knowledge and experience that inspired this debut novel. She lives in Vancouver, Canada.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 8, 2017
    At the start of Kamal’s convoluted debut, Vancouver research assistant Nora Watts meets with Lynn and Everett Walsh about their missing 15-year-old daughter, Bonnie. Nora assumes that the couple want to hire her boss’s PI firm to locate the girl, but, as it turns out, Nora is Bonnie’s birth mother, and the Walshes think that Bonnie is trying to find her. Nora tries to put the matter from her mind, as Bonnie was born after a brutal rape that left Nora comatose for six months, but she can’t stop thinking about the teen and eventually decides to conduct her own search. Nora quickly discovers that she and the Walshes aren’t the only ones hunting for Bonnie. While Kamal uses Nora’s investigation to spotlight important social issues such as homelessness, political corruption, and the mistreatment of Canada’s indigenous population, the book’s plot is unconvincing and overly dependent on coincidence. Nora is too idiosyncratic to feel real, and none of her relationships rings true, further sapping the tale of heft and verisimilitude. Agent: Miriam Kriss, Irene Goodman Agency.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from May 15, 2017
    A Vancouver woman with demons to spare is asked to find a teen runaway in Kamal's searing debut.When Nora Watts receives a 5 a.m. phone call from a man named Everett Walsh insisting that she might know something about a missing girl, his desperation is palpable. Nora, who "help[s] look for missing people for a living," reluctantly meets with Everett and his wife, Lynn, and finds out that their 15-year-old daughter, Bonnie, is missing, but because she's run away before, the police won't take it seriously. Nora is their last resort, they tell her, because she's Bonnie's biological mother--she'd given the girl up for adoption 15 years earlier. At first, Nora doesn't want anything to do with the case, but something pulls at her, and as she digs deeper, it threatens to pull her all the way under. Nora narrates her own story, and she doesn't care if you like her. In fact, she keeps everyone at arm's length, taking comfort only in her beloved dog, Whisper, stealing from those who show her kindness, and refusing help from the private investigator and journalist who employ her. Estranged from her younger sister and a former child of the foster care system, she used to seek solace in the bottle, and it always threatens right at the edge of her vision. Nora's Vancouver in winter is one of endless natural beauty, but dark currents run beneath it that highlight the harsh treatment of indigenous people, especially girls and women, and the ease with which they are swept away and forgotten. It's a bracing reality that underscores Nora's painful, violent past, and debut novelist Kamal uses her own background in community activism to great effect. As Nora searches for Bonnie, the trail of corruption leads her to a wealthy family with ties to mining, but what would they have to do with a missing girl? The truth is beyond terrifying, and if readers think they know where this is going, they'll likely be surprised. The brutal finale tests Nora to her very limits. Though comparisons to Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander are inevitable, Nora blazes her own shining trail. A gritty, violent read with a tough, idiosyncratic, dryly witty heroine readers will root for even if they wouldn't want to invite her home.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    February 15, 2017
    When her daughter vanishes, Nora Watts immediately goes on the hunt, but it's not what you think; she gave up her newborn for adoption 15 years previously and is being contacted by the adoptive parents as their last hope. Nora is homeless, burned by her foster-care past, and bitter about the birth, but she's trying. A big debut with a 100,000-copy first printing and sales to a dozen countries.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Jeffery Deaver "Utterly compelling, rich with voice and psychological insight, populated with
    heartbreakingly real characters, The Lost Ones will stay with you for a long, long time after you finish the last page. Perhaps forever."
  • Alison Gaylin, USA Today bestselling author "Suspenseful, atmospheric and often deeply moving, The Lost Ones features one of the most complicated and fascinating protagonists I've come across in a long time. I'd follow Nora Watts (and her dog, Whisper) anywhere."
  • Irish Independent "Sheena Kamal is being hailed . . . as the next Gillian Flynn."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "[A] searing debut...Though comparisons to Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander are inevitable, Nora blazes her own shining trail. A gritty, violent read with a tough, idiosyncratic, dryly witty heroine readers will root for even if they wouldn't want to invite her home."
  • Library Journal "An intriguing twist on the standard missing-person thriller, Kamal's debut is raw, violent, and thought provoking. An author to watch!"
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A Novel
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