Lost Girls and Love Hotels by Catherine Hanrahan

28 Feb


“I sell my time and kill my body…”

Margaret is a woman who lives for the downward spiral. Fleeing from Canada to escape her past, Margaret settles in Tokyo to work for Air-Pro Stewardess Training Institute. There, she immerses herself in drugs and sex to forget her family and repress memories of her brother Frank: The brother who tried to kill her.

Sharing an apartment with her friend Ines, another fellow Canadian, Margaret ingests illegal substances, drinks herself into stupors and tries to ignore her past and where she came from. Drugs and booze will only blind for a moment; sex gives her another outlet, another way to forget, while hands are caressing her body.

Margaret? Margaret I need you to call me. There’s been an accident-

Margaret trains doll-like Japanese women to be stewardesses, to fly high in the skies. “Air Pro: Putting young women in the air. Where they belong.” But her past still gnaws at her, still tries to push forth into her consciousness. More drugs and booze don’t help; the cocaine and beer concoction no longer purify her thoughts, no longer help her to forget. She is no longer able to stay lost. That all changes when Margaret meets Kazu.

Kazu is a mysterious gangster; tattoos mark his muscled body and his eyes are dark and full of shadows. They engage in sex, in lust. Kazu takes Margaret to a Love Hotel. There are hundreds of Love Hotels in Tokyo, lurid places with themed rooms and no human attendants. You choose a room from a lit up display and have a rest (three hours) or a stay (all night). Which room will you choose?

Immortality is not an option

Margaret becomes obsessed with the pictures, the face, of a girl reported to be dead. Abducted and killed, if rumor is to be believed. But Margaret sees her face everywhere: in alleyways, on posters, in the subway. Margaret begins to search for the lost girl, realizing that she is one herself.

Despite her best intentions, Margaret finds herself falling for the tattooed Kazu, but their love comes with complications. Margaret can no longer pretend she does not love Kazu, but he has not been honest with her. He is married, and in Tokyo, it is best not to battle with the wife. Mistresses have been known to perish at the hands of knife handling wives.

Don’t fight a Japanese wife…so sharp, you don’t even feel it…

Kazu tells Margaret to leave, to go back to Canada. But how can Margaret leave the man she loves? She continues to pine for Kazu, who tries to keep his distance. She sees the missing girl everywhere now. She fills Margaret’s dreams, her waking hours.

Before her stay in Tokyo is over, Margaret must confront her past if she is to survive. She also must confront herself, to free herself before the downward spiral claims her, or be lost forever.

“Lost Girls and Love Hotels” is Christine Hanrahan’s first novel and that’s a crying shame. After I had finished the book, I scoured the Internet to find out if she had written anything else I could get my hands on, to no avail. As soon as I finished reading “Lost Girls and Love Hotels”, I started reading it again. I’m now reading it for a third time. The book is just that good. It’s the best book I’ve read in years.

From the first page, the story is just so consuming, so engrossing, that you can do nothing but turn the pages and continue on it’s wild, lustful ride. She uses writing devices (like flash backs and talking in third person whenever Margaret is on a drug binge) like a pro. Hanrahan is a natural at creating mood, using words to her advantage and letting us see inside her protagonist’s head. “Lost Girls and Love Hotels” is proof of her skill and it’s one damn great book.

What makes the novel so interesting is that it doesn’t hold back any secrets. We know everything (or almost everything) from the beginning; Hanrahan has set up a line of dominoes, long and curvy, and is about to flick the first one. All we have to do is watch the rest of the line fall; and be amazed.

All I can say is: Read this book. It’s amazing, the ending is a shocker and it will be the best book you have read in years. I, for one, can’t wait for Hanrahans next offering.

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