The Lost Kings explores the boundaries of memory, trauma, and family ties. When Jeanie King’s mother died in an accident, she and her brother Jamie were raised by their aunt and uncle until their father came home from the war and took them to live with him in a cabin in the Washington coast range. They ran wild, missing school, and living more or less off-the-grid. Their only company other than their father was Maddox who became very close to Jeanie. They shared their first kiss with such sweet innocence.

But it was not a back-to-nature idyll for them. Their father drank and occasionally was hard on Jamie. It became worse when her father brought a woman home to live with them and she was only more trouble, slapping Jeanie and driving her father to rages. One night her dad came home covered in blood but he disappeared by morning and so did her brother. Jeanie was taken back to her aunt and uncle, losing Maddox, her dad and her brother all at once.

And what about Jamie? Did their father take him and leave her in a cruel choice of one child over another? Or did Jamie run off without telling her or ever reaching out to her again? Or more likely, did her father kill Jamie? These questions haunt her and she is in a destructive cycle of drinking, sleeping with married men, and continuing therapy with a therapist who seems exploitive. But then one day Maddox finds her and tells her that he knows where her father is. Will she finally get her answers?

The Lost Kings is one of those suspense novels that show how ridiculous genre boundaries can be. Sure, it’s a thriller but it’s also a literary novel. Why can’t books be both?

I liked the story and though it was completely fair, I didn’t twig to the answer until the end. Well done. I like it when the mystery element is not obvious. I also thought it did a great job of exploring the dynamics of dysfunction, showing how a parent can be loving and destructive. Sometimes love is not enough. I thought the book slowed down in the middle, though, and wished it would be shorter or faster, just anything to get beyond the somewhat tedious self-destructive cycle on Jeanie’s part. But when it did, when she finally acted for herself, the book was stellar.

I received an e-galley of The Lost Kings from the publisher through NetGalley