The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay

I found this book on Flashlight Worthy's list of Literary Thrillers for Book Lovers. Well, it was less literary than I'd hoped, and the "thriller" was more of a subdued mystery that detailed a long lost Melville manuscript. While the book-lover in me liked the details of the novel and its incorporation of all things bookish, I thought that the overall story was lacking. For one, it was about 100 pages to long. I realized I was halfway through the novel and still waiting for something to happen. Hay takes much to long to set up a plot that climatically disappoints. I'm all for a lengthy exposition if the rest of the novel delivers. This one did not.

Throughout the ladder half of the novel I found myself reading quickly and intently so I could find out how it ended and so it would do just that; end. I hadn't wasted 300 pages just to put the book down and not find out if the Melville manuscript existsted and the story behind it. So, in that regard, the novel was somewhat "flashlight worthy". But, I've now learned that "flashlight worthy" isn't synonmous with "a great book".

As far as mysteries go, this one was set up just fine, and was made more exciting because it revolved around stolen manuscripts and famous american authors and their secrets, but the execution was lacking. Certain details didn't add up, like why didn't Rosemary read the shred of paper from the letter before she destroyed it? She had weeks!

Like I said, the only thing that made this book tolerable were the literary references, which I enjoyed.
It was my own fault. The fault of a girl who had loved the likes of Pip, Darcy, Knightly, Mr. Rochester (all the usual suspects) without genuinely registering their common quality - they were fictional.
Other than these details that made me smile and the fact that most of the story took place in a fabulous bookstore, I wasn't impressed.

I should also mention that while this particular book wasn't up my alley, I have found many great books from Flashlight Worthy recommendations, including others that were on this very list (for instance, The Shadow of the Wind).  Yes, I still have faith in Flashlight Worthy. 

Publisher: Doubleday, 2006


  1. Sounds like a 'pass' to me. Nicely reviewed, though! Seems like slapping a 'literary thriller' as the genre on books is becoming more and more popular these days - but rarely does it work well...

  2. It's most definitely a "pass". Don't read it, Greg.

  3. Yikes. Definitely one to take off the list, thanks for the heads up!

  4. Brenna-

    So sorry the book disappointed. Not that I can give you back the 5 or 10 hours of your life you spent reading this book, but you should know that based on your comments I took a closer look at the Amazon reviews of the book (not the final arbiter of all that is good, but a pretty good general measure of things) and I too found the book lacking. So... based on your comments, and the Amazon reviews, I've removed the book from the list.

    I also took a closer look at the other books on the list -- I feel better about those books being 'flashlight worthy'. Sorry this lame read slipped through -- that list is from a librarian at the Smithsonian who has contributed dozens of list to the site -- she's generally pretty trustworthy when it comes to choosing books that are... Flashlight Worthy. ;-)

    Finally, as someone with excellent taste in book herself, drop me a line at info AT flashlightworthy DOT com if you're interested in contributing a list to Flashlight Worthy yourself.

    (The guy who runs Flashlight Worthy)
    Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations
    Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. ;-)

  5. Someone in my book group is reading this one...I'll have to ask her how she liked it.

  6. I just finished the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I liked, a mystery and a thriller. This one, well, it also sounds like a pass to me. I can imagine you, or other readers (as not to sound creepy) yelling at the book as if you were in a movie theater! Why? Why? Why?