The Office of Lost and Found by Vincent Holland-Keen

June 26, 2011

Thomas Locke can find anything. You know the hurricane that hit a while back? Word is he found the butterfly that started it. So, when a desperate Veronica Drysdale hires Locke to find her missing husband, it makes perfect sense.

Except the world of Thomas Locke doesn’t make sense. It puts monsters under the bed, makes stars fall from the sky and leads little children to worship the marvels of road-works.

This world also hides from Veronica a past far darker and stranger than she could ever have imagined. To learn the truth, Veronica is going to have to lose everything.

And that’s where Locke’s shadowy business partner Lafarge comes in…

Before we begin I have a couple of questions. How do you feel about novels that feature a character reincarnated as a toaster? Would you have a problem if the toaster was called Leonard? If you have issues with either of these questions I would advise reading no further. I can tell you now, that this novel is not for you. Perhaps you might wish to consider doing something else instead? I’ve been told gardening is a very popular pastime?

Ahh your still here, jolly good. You’re interested aren’t you? Your thinking ‘toasters called Leonard, reincarnation, monsters under beds –  all sounds awfully intriguing’. In this case, it turns out that you are absolutely one hundred percent correct.

The Office of Lost and Found by Vincent Holland-Keen contains a rich creamy vein of the absurd and surreal running straight through to its chocolate-coated centre. I ask you, where else would you find children obsessed with the devilment that is direct mail? The novel has a splendidly intricate plot that follows a small group of characters as they try and maintain a grasp of what is real.  All around them our reality starts to warp and bend, as it becomes more and more fluid in nature. Each chapter demands your full attention while Holland-Keen writes like some crazed verbal gymnast. He obviously takes great delight in playing with language.

Characters flow in and out of the action packed narrative, and at times it is feels like trying to follow some sort of demented shell game, I was thoroughly impressed. I always enjoy when an author defies my expectations and creates something that entertains, but forces me to think at the same time.

Like a small apologetic island of serenity in the midst of all this madness is Thomas Locke. He works for The Office of Lost and Found locating objects, both animate and inanimate, that have been lost. His skill lies in following seemingly unassociated clues in order to get results. I loved the way that Locke frequently appears at locations like the shopkeeper from Mr Benn. As if by magic, he is suddenly present as though he has always been there.

As I alluded to earlier I don’t think that this novel will be for everyone. Some may find the plot a little too hectic and keeping track of the characters and their ever-changing personalities a bit of a headache, personally I was blown away by it all.

The thing to remember is that this isn’t your typical, by the numbers, urban fantasy this is something completely different. This novel is going to challenge your perceptions and force you to use the old grey matter. Underneath this splendidly quirky detective story there is an interesting on-going commentary about the nature of belief and those that choose to be believers. The key thing to remember when reading this metaphysical mind-bender, to paraphrase The Matrix, is that ‘there is no spoon’.

Trust me when I say, if you are willing to take a chance on this debut novel you will enjoy it.

The Office of Lost and Found is published by Anarchy Books on 3rd July. Check out the trailer below.



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