Twenty years after a young girl goes missing, two forlorn British mall employees, Kurt and Lisa, bond over their melancholy and, later, over their connection to the girl’s case. Catherine O’Flynn’s sprawling debut novel is a fascinating look at urban change, and it’s easy to sympathize with her protagonists stuck in dead-end jobs. But it’s more than a bit misleading that What Was Lost‘s back cover promises a thriller-esque plot about a missing girl, when in actuality that story serves as a mere bookend to a more subtle, cleverly written study of Kurt and Lisa’s mutual ennui. B+

What Was Lost