Book Review: lost boy lost girl by Peter Straub


Cover of "Lost Boy Lost Girl"

Cover of Lost Boy Lost Girl

I have never read a book by Peter Straub (audible gasp). I’ve known about him for years but somehow never picked up one of his books. After reading a blog that mentioned him as a great horror/mystery writer, I decided to give him a try.

lost boy lost girl is an unusual tale. It’s so well-written, it’s actually believable. I was pleasantly surprised.

Fifteen-year-old Mark Underhill’s life is a mess. His father, Phillip, is a self-absorbed twit who cares about no one but himself. His mother, after acting very strangely for a couple of weeks, kills herself. Phillip’s brother, horror writer Tim Underhill, comes to the funeral and befriends his nephew.

Mark and best friend Jimbo Monaghan become entranced with a house they have never noticed before, at 3323 North Michigan St., in their hometown of Millhaven. It just happens to back up to Mark’s house, is old and decrepit and long-abandoned. This fascination seems to disturb Mark’s mother before her suicide.

It turns out that a cousin of Nancy Underhill, Joseph Kalendar, was a serial murderer who lived at that house many years ago. He and his wife had a daughter, Lily, whom they hid from everyone but Nancy.  Joseph tortured Lily in a secret room in the house and killed her.

The boys break in the house and discover numerous hidden passages and rooms. Mark feels watched in the house but is compelled to explore at every waking moment.

Running concurrent to this story is the mystery of a serial murderer who is kidnapping and killing teens in the Sherman Park area of town. In the meantime, Mark suddenly disappears. While investigating the suicide of his sister-in-law and mystery of his missing nephew, Tim Underhill learns that the affluent Ronnie Lloyd-Jones lives in a mansion on the other side of town but also happens to own the house on Michigan Street.

Everyone thinks Mark has been taken and murdered by the serial killer. That is, everyone but Jimbo and Uncle Tim. They discover that Mark has entered the spiritual world to be with his love, the ghost of Lily Kalendar, who lives in the Michigan Street house. The serial killer is captured.

The book flows between past and present, the story of the current serial killer and Joseph Kalendar, Mark and Jimbo and Tim’s search for the truth. It sounds more confusing than it actually is. A combination ghost story and murder mystery, it was an enjoyable read.

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