Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: The Forgotten by David Baldacci

If you asked me a year ago I’d tell you that David Baldacci somehow looked like he had lost his touch; this year though I say: he’s back with a bang.

The Forgotten is one of his best books and it is no exaggeration to say that John Puller pulled it off. When he first appeared in Zero Day I did think that he was here to stay. What I didn’t believe was that his next adventure would be better than the first one.

It all begins with a letter. Betsy Puller Simon writes to her brother John Puller Senior to let him know that there’s something rotten in Paradise, Florida. Strange things seem to happen during the night, she says in an understatement, and she asks for the help of Puller Junior to investigate.

Puller who works for the Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S. Army knows that Aunt Betsy is a down to earth person who wouldn’t try to create something big out of nothing at all, so he decides to use the remaining days of his holiday time to head down to Florida to see what’s going on.

However he arrives there too late. By that time Betsy is already dead. According to the local police she’d accidentally drowned, but somehow Puller doesn’t buy it. If it wasn’t for the letter maybe he’d accept the coroner’s verdict but he’s certain that there’s something fishy going on.

And there is, as soon the bodies of an elderly couple will wash up at the beach, with bullet wounds in their heads, and lots of mysterious things will start to happen. In the end Paradise is everything but what its name suggests, as in that small community there is a really high crime rate, there’s corruption in the police force and elsewhere, and secrets and lies rule the day.

Puller is bound to create more enemies than friends while there, since his arrival seems to stir things up. He doesn’t know who to trust and he sure as hell doesn’t expect any help from the police. Only a young and beautiful officer seems competent and honest enough in the Police Force, and it is with her that he collaborates at first.

As the plot thickens though he comes to realize that he’ll need all the help he can get. He may be fast, and strong, and smart but he cannot out the bad guys all by himself. Much welcomed help will arrive from a female General of the U.S. Army who has a history with him, a giant of a man who’s after a rich guy who wronged him badly, a kid who’s trying to lead a better, non gang-affiliated life, and a mysterious woman with a mission.

In here we have lots of mystery, amazing action scenes, some sentiment every now and then, the inevitable twists and turns and a hero who’s bound to make life difficult for his literary arch-rival, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.

Well done Mr. Baldacci; well done indeed!

By the same author:

Hell's Corner
The Sixth Man
One Summer
No Rest for the Dead
No Time Left

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