The Office of Lost and Found
By Vincent Holland-Keen
Thomas Locke is known as the man who can find anything, rumor has it he even found the butterfly that started the last hurricane.
It therefore makes perfect sense that a very desperate Veronica Drysdale would engage his services to find her missing husband - except the world of Thomas Locke doesn't make any sense - in the slightest. This is a world that puts monsters under beds, makes stars fall from the sky and even leads little children to wonder over the marvels of road-works.
This same nonsensical 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…
The Office of Lost and Found (TOOLAF) is being published by Andy Remic's new company Anarchy Books - a very promising startup and one that already seems to be showing a unique voice in the material it publishes.
It begins with a character called Leonard who has been reincarnated as a toaster and the story gets stranger from there, TOOLAF travels at breakneck speed through the weirdness barrier and way, way beyond. Imagine if you will getting spun very fast on one of those merry-go-rounds that can often be found in childrens playparks until you are very nearly sick after previously imbibing a good deal of alcoholic beverages and then being forced to read a book (maybe one about the magic hopping, fancy dressing Mr Benn) - then you could possibly get some idea of how the reader may feel after 30 minutes of this book. It's either completely genius or just totally nuts and after finishing the book I still can't decide which - it may in fact be both.
This feeling isn't helped by the way that the story jumps about more than a rabbit on acid, without warning and without compromise. As the reader you are expected to keep up and pay attention as the second you drift you've had it - the books whizzed past so fast you could hear it break the sound barrier. Brave? yes, easy to read? no - but do we blame the author for having the guts to try something so different or do we instead admit that this book isn't for everyone, that even if you can keep up (and there will be some who can't) you very well may still not have the slightest clue about what's actually going on until you are over half way through the book?
The quality of the narrative helps, the authors strong voice does project very well from the pages and feels a little like a young lovechild of Douglas Adams and Robert Rankin, the author clearly has a consummate grasp of the English language and uses this ability to great effect. The story (when and if you can actually make sense of it) is strangely beguiling, with a surreal, intricate plot and highly entertaining characters - Thomas Locke is just brilliant as is the idea behind his elusive, enigmatic partner Lafarge. The detective style is also quite reminiscent of Dirk Gently (one of my favorite book series) and there is a subtle message underpinning the whole story that comments on the very nature of personal reality and belief that once you grasp makes sense of the whole structure of the book - very clever indeed.
Personally I like to be challenged (sometimes at least), to be taken outside my comfort zone and to try something new and that's probably one of the reasons why I did enjoy this book so much, it's a bit like Douglas Adams during a serious psychedelic episode or even Robert Rankin sober. I can imagine though that this will be a book that people will either love or hate, you either get it or you don't and the author should be applauded for being so bold. If you are the adventurous sort and can stand the breakneck pace and concentration level required then you too should love it.
Written on 14th September 2011 by Ant .