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Lost Boy Lost Girl

by Peter Straub

Library Journal: Straub brings back his writer hero Tim Underhill (Koko; The Throat) in a lightweight, occult horror mystery involving a suicide and a missing nephew. The story involves not one but two Jeffrey Dahmer-like serial killers who prey on teenage boys. The point of view oscillates between Tim Underhill, the investigator, and Mark Underhill, the lost boy. There is a haunted house, some ghosts, creepy moments, and an unusual ending that uses supernatural email and web pages. Compared with Straub's other works of horror, this is something of a minor diversion, but it is bound to be popular. Recommended for public and university libraries.-Ken St. Andre, Phoenix P.L.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms