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Lost Souls [Hardcover]

Michael Collins
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Sep 2003

LOST SOULS begins with the discovery of the body of a small girl, dressed as an angel, concealed in a pile of autumn leaves. It looks as if the child might have been the victim of a hit and run. It's Halloween. The streets had been full of children. But how did a three-year old come to be hiding there alone in the dark, dressed only in her flimsy costume? And why were the child's feet bare?

A ghastly crime, a bungled cover-up, several guilty secrets, innocence defiled, a community isolated, a lowering landscape across which a host of dysfunctional characters stalk, a twisting plot and Michael Collins's uniquely stylish and blackly humorous prose make this latest novel a gripping read. As always the landscape and people are vividly evoked. This novel is full of unforgettable images from its haunting and chillingly beautiful beginning to its brilliant denouement..

Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; First edition. Hardback. edition (1 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 029764565X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297645658
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 13.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,950,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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It is, above all, American in syntax and rhythm and for an outsider like Collins, albeit one who has lived there for a long time, that is a great achievement... His mastery of style, moment and place, gives it a curious vitality which is thoroughly compelling. (JAY RAYNER OBSERVER)

On occasion, his writing blends the commonplace and the uncanny in a manner reminiscent of the films of David Lynch. The best thing about Lost Souls, however, is the tortured voice of its narrator. (STEPHEN AMIDON SUNDAY TIMES)

The real interest of the book lies... in its dissection of a run-down society.... The novel reads like a report from the front line. It is satisfyingly truthful. Its plain bleak matter-of-fact tone is curiously invigorating. One grows weary after all of those fanciful novelist with a talent for playful invention. It's good to come on one who tells you how it is. Collins is such a writer. (ALLAN MASSIE, THE SCOTSMAN)

The Limerick-born Collins has been described as "the thinking man's John Grisham", but that is less than just. He has a strength and emotional charge that remind you of Patricia Highsmith at her finest. (DAILY MAIL)

What elevates this work beyond the workaday and humdrum thriller is the author's self-conscious knowingness.... Collins brilliantly deploys a cold, precise prose in his descriptions of the theatricalities and absurdities of American life... At the moment it would seem that Michael Collins is one of the chief practitioners within this genre and Lost Souls is a good example of its possibilities. (IRISH TIMES)

"Collins's reputation as one of the finest chroniclers of American life, seen at its darkest and most decayed, is held up admirably by this fine, chilling offering." (SUNDAY BUSINESS POST)

Michael Collins is far more than a thriller writer... He's an astute chronicler of small-town dead-end lives, an Irish emigre whose commentaries on American mores and movtivations put him on the Booker shortlist for 200. (MARY FLANAGAN INDEPENDENT)

An engrossing thriller with a social conscience and a spellbinding portrait of a community under pressure, Lost Souls is as close to perfection as a tale of flaws, foibles and failure can hope to come. (IRISH INDEPENDENT)

Collins, clearly, is keen to create a mood, an atmosphere, a sombre snapshot of a society that has been driven to a dark place by greed and pain. He achieves this, no doubt. (THE GUARDIAN)

Collins has caught the sheer weirdness of small-town America... the story achieves a rich and unexpected pathos. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Book Description

A novel of small town intrigue and corruption from the author of THE KEEPERS OF TRUGH and THE RESURRECTIONISTS.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost Souls Collins' Finest To Date 27 Nov 2003
As a longtime fan of Collins' work from his Irish novels and short stories to his American novels, I can say with certainty, that with Lost Souls he has arrived! This is his finest novel to date, a deceptively simple story concerning the mysterious death of a child. What may seem a police procedural at first, turns into one of the most crafted works you'll ever read.
The prose is haunting, capturing the Lost Souls who inhabit this novel, from the divorced cop at the centre of this mystery to a surreal mayor and chief who try to orchestrate a coverup in this small unnamed town.
To speak of plot is to diminish the brilliance and genius of Collins' work in Lost Souls. The connective tissue from scene to scene is peppered with such sociological deftness and believability, that it makes your skin crawl. In an age of the BIG novel of ideas, Collins has mastered the smallness of existence, the day to day essence of how we survive in this day and age.
I was reminded of The Corrections a little, though this is a very different book, but the font of both writers genius is apparent. Collins inhabits the crime genre in a way Chandler inhabited it, bringing a literary sensibility and roundness to his characters. The quote on the jacket says, "A thinking mans John Grisham!" This has nothing to do with Grisham. This is so off. Lost Souls is a hybrid of a literary classic coupled with a Chandleresque nod to suspense and mystery.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read for a few dull days 27 Jan 2005
Small town America, a child is found dead by the side of the road on Halloween Night. The local football star is implicated and the cover-up springs into motion to preserve the team's chances of winning the next day. Lawrence, the local cop, investigates but is himself compromised because of favours owed to the mayor. We get drawn into Lawrence's shabby life, and realise that our hero is himself a loser, caught in weaknesses of his own. This book unfolds into a complex plot where nothing is as it seems. But somehow I feel I've been there before? Haven't we met corrupt mayors of small towns before? Complicit police chiefs, useless officers? Peter Benchley in "Jaws" did it better and more dramatically perhaps. Nevertheless, it is a compelling thriller - not perhaps the best, but fine to read on the train for a few days. Maybe its not worth a very long review - its "OK".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid murder-mystery 14 Feb 2005
The story begins with the discovery of the body of a little girl who appears to have been killed in a hit-and-run, through the eyes of the policeman who has found the body and is meant to investigate the case, while getting sucked deeper and deeper into power games.

As the characters' lives intertwine in an ever-growing circle and the plot twists and turns, I was glad for the short chapters that make it the perfect read on a commute!

On the downside, it seems to round up in a bit of a rush, leaving a few questions unanswered, but still a good read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Psyche! 16 Oct 2003
By A Customer
This is Collins' best work by far, a tight suspense story deftly peppered with his usual social consciousness. But here story is the main interest, a starkly real story of a town coming apart under the weight of its own secrecy. In covering up the death of a child on Halloween, an opening that will stop you cold, we embark on a journey into the psyche of an entire town. From football to religion, from the car salesman mayor to the inept police chief, to the main character's divorced wife and husband, we see the shards of American life in all their authenticity and quirkiness.
Collins is by far the best living writer exploring this stuff of small-town America. His novels The Keepers of Truth and The Ressurrections are masterpieces of small-town analysis, but here the effect is somewhat different. There's more attention to story, to plot and suspense. This is a page-turner, an intoxicating, guilty pleasure. At times you gloss over the brilliance of the writing, only to notice it when picking it up again. This is testimony to the pace and verve of the story. This is a transitional work, one that takes Collins into the realm of film. The novel is setup as a film, the descriptions come across as precise camera angles, and yet this is not a screenplay or anything like that. The writing is as fine as you'll read anywhere.
Collins' outsider's perspective is like someone said, David Lynchesque at times, but it doesn't tend toward the surreal, rather in the deft pursuit of realism, Collins finds the absurd and surreal quality that is the American psyche!
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4.0 out of 5 stars ratcheting up the tension 27 Oct 2007
I loved The Resurrectionists and there is always a strong chance that the second book by the same author will be a let down. The first hundred or so pages were exactly that. The story was meandering - although the characterisation and the quirky images Collins reveals were as strong as ever. Once the story moved up a gear however it did grip me as the main character gets into more and more of a mess from which he could not extricate himself. I only know of small-town America what I have read in books and seen in films but, if those are anything to go by, then the book rings true in showing a claustrophobic and corrupt world.
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