U of O professor releases his newest novel, Missing Children

While University of Ottawa English professor Gerald Lynch’s research focuses on Canadian and Irish fiction, his newly published novel is more reminiscent of his childhood love of the “Sherlock Holmes” novel.

In Missing Children, Lynch finally delves into the genre of mystery for himself.

The novel is Lynch’s fifth piece of fiction, having written two novels and two collections of short stories. Missing Children is set in Troutstream, the same fictitious Ottawa suburb as his previous novels. The novel follows a successful doctor as his life begins to spiral out of his control—starting with the disappearance of his young daughter.

The real intrigue of Missing Children, lies not in the whereabouts of the protagonist’s daughter, Shawn, who returns home unharmed, but in what caused her disappearance, and whether it’s related to the increasing number of children going missing from Troutstream.

The novel was inspired by a short story Lynch wrote for The Puritan, an online literary magazine. The idea was so compelling to him that he continued to add on to it, completing his novel a few years later. Lynch can’t pinpoint one inspiration to the story, but credits many events as what made him think about the subject of tragedy and its mysteries.

“My last novel was actually published in 2001,” Lynch said. “I didn’t intend it this way, but when I look back, it’s, in a way, a post-9/11 novel. It’s about how you cope with catastrophe, how you go on.”

This might just be the very question raised by Missing Children. Of the book’s main character, Lynch said, “he’s mystified, first of all by the fact she’s missing, secondly that such a catastrophe could come into his well-ordered life.”

When Shawn refuses to speak, the race for answers ensues, and the action escalates.

The novel’s intricate plot is true to mystery literature, but Missing Children is undeniably unique as well. “It definitely has a mystery aspect that would entertain readers, but it’s mostly about the narrator and what happens in his head,” said Lynch.

“The novels I’ve written have all had an aspect of mystery in them,” he said. “The truth is, just about any novel has that element. There has to be a mystery—that’s what keeps the reader reading.”

As an experienced professor who works on ongoing literary research, writing a third novel is a feat for Gerald Lynch, but he says it’s only part of the job. “Writing fiction has always been half my workload,” he said. “The other half is teaching, research, and working on committees. I’m very fortunate.”

Missing Children is available now in stores and online at all major retailers. Lynch will also be doing a reading at Books on Beechwood on Nov. 5 at 6 p.m.