Book Review: LOST SOULS, by Michael Collins

Ordinarily, I'm not big on murder-mysteries, but LOST SOULS is a bit different. Though the book doesn't vary much on the mysterious plot (small girl found dead on Halloween--small Midwestern town wonders Who? and Why?), the murder is pretty much solved by the second chapter, leaving Collins with plenty of time to examine the downfall of a failing town and then draw certain parallels between this town and the fall of industry in America--which is interesting, but it's also an awful lot like what he did in his last two books, The Resurrectionists and The Keepers of Truth.

So, it's satire in disguise as mystery, which I'm all for, but I worry when I see three books by the same author attack essentially the same subject--especially when the author has already done it quite successfully in The Resurrectionists. It pains me to see this happen, because Collins is very good--his details create an almost overbearing atmosphere, and he's excellent at capturing gestures and quirky mannerisms. He tends toward melancholy characters and depressing stories, but he says a lot with a little bit of material. I just think it might be time to try a fresh angle.

I know Keepers was short-listed for the Booker Prize and all, but I liked The Resurrectionists best, and if you're ready for a dose of gloomy Midwestern mystery-satire, I'd recommend you start with that one.


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