Friday, July 09, 2004

Title: Lost Boy, Lost Girl
Author: Peter Straub

this is the third novel by peter straub featuring his character tim underhill - a writer who seems to writer novels similar to straub, based to some degree on events in his life. the results provide mixed narrative effects - shifting person view point from first to third, depending on whether it is from tim's view, or his account of something told to him. additionally the time scales shift about, piecing together events as characters provide them, which leads to some feeling of flux, which can feel confusing to some degree.

underhill returns to his home town, from new york where he is living the life of a successful author, for the funeral of his brother's wife. once there he realises that she had comitted suicide, and tries to understand why. however soon after the funeral, his nephew disappears. once again returning to his home town underhill starts to learn about his sister-in-law's relation to the notorious local serial-killer/rapist, and the house that he lived in. at the same time as the underhills are coming to terms with their connection to this past killer, a new killer has arisen, killing teenage boys - so that the question of whether mark underhill is the latest victim arises.

with the mystery surrounding the original killer's house and possible sightings of what might be ghosts, there is a certain sense of something "other", contrasting the more straightforward ideas of serial killers. however the handling of this aspect is curious, and not entirely satisfying. one particular niggle with the plot, why did the underhill family move into a house where there is a house of a serial killer across the back yard? straub makes some attempt to explain this, which might be valid to some degree, but still feels a little half hearted.

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