What Was Lost The 1980s: Ten-year-old Kate Meaney – with her ‘Top Secret’ notebook and Mickey her toy monkey – is busy being a junior detective. She observes goings-on and follows ‘suspects’ at the newly opened Green Oaks shopping centre and in her street, where she is friends with the newsagent’s son, Adrian. But when this curious, independent-spirited young girl disappears, Adrian falls under suspicion and is hounded out of his home by the press.Then, in 2004, Lisa is working as a deputy manager at Your Music, a record store. Every day, under the watchful eye of the CCTV, she tears her hair out at the behaviour of her customers and colleagues. But when she meets security guard Kurt, she becomes entranced by the little girl he keeps glimpsing on the centre’s CCTV. As their after-hours friendship intensifies, they investigate how these sightings might be connected to the unsettling history of Green Oaks.


‘A delight to read – poignant, suspenseful, funny and smart. What Was Lost is a moving novel, bespeaking not only the energy and inventiveness of its author but also the power of good old realism’

Jane Smiley, Los Angeles Times

‘An exceptional, polyphonic novel of urban disaffection, written with humour and pathos. Kate’s deceptively jaunty diary reveals a consumer–driven society choking on its own loneliness; a ghost story; and an examination of unspeakable loss’

The Guardian

‘O’Flynn’s stunning, hugely original first novel was on this year’s Man Booker longlist, and it’s easy to see why – the loneliness of the characters is heartrending and the shopping centre is a character in its own right; a symbol of the age’

The Times

‘O’Flynn’s poignant first novel explores bereavement and loneliness, what it is to be invisible and what it takes to be found. Her prose is taut, and the story intricately plotted and compelling’

The Telegraph

‘O’Flynn is just the colleague you’d want to be stuck with in a dead-end job’

Literary Review

‘A terrific, wonderful book and I loved every page of it.’

Douglas Coupland, author of The Gum Thief

‘An off-beat quirky little mystery which punches way above its weight. Set in Birmingham in the mid-eighties, adolescent loner Kate aspires to be a great detective, spending days on stake-out at her local shopping centre. The narrative then jumps 20 years, when the ghost of a little girl starts appearing in service corridors. The author’s achingly astute observations on consumerism make this far more than a generic mystery and the icing on the cake is a twist in the tail which I really didn’t see coming.’

Marian Keyes, author of Anybody Out There? and Angels


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