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Sunday, August 5, 2007

Book Review: "The Forgotten Man" by Robert Crais

I never heard of Robert Crais before I stumbled across "The Forgotten Man." This was not only an enjoyable read; it made me a fan of Crais's work. I can't get enough of his writing. The man writes in a style that's fast-paced and entertaining and the characters he crafts are believable and easily identifiable, too.

"The Forgotten Man" is an account of a bizarre episode in the life of celebrated Los Angeles private investigator Elvis Cole. Cole gets a early morning heads up from friends on the L.A.P.D that an elderly homicide victim with his last dying breath admitted to being his long lost father. Cole grew up without the knowledge of the identity of his biologic father.

His mother was not much help suffering from psychoses that rendered her delusional at times. She would run off for days at a time only to be brought back home by detectives hired by her father. Cole's mom filled his head with fabrications about his father, telling him that he worked as a human cannonball in a travelling circus. As a boy he would also run off after carnivals to desperately seek out his father.

Cole is allowed to piggyback his investigation with that of L.A.P.D. homicide detectives Diaz and Pardy. Physical evidence found by Cole at the scene of the crime leads him to a seedy hotel in Toluca Lake, an L.A. suburb. Going there allows him to establish the identity of the victim which turns out to be an alias. An autopsy reveals medical pelvic implants with manufacturing ID numbers on them which allows Cole to trace the devices back to a hospital finally revealing the true identity of the victim, a George Reinnike.

Reinnike had been receiving insurance payments, a result of a botched operation involving his legs. Nine years ago, he mysteriously disappeared from his Temecula address forfeiting the money. Further probing appears to tie Reinnike to a brutal bludgeoning of a family in Temecula, killing three and leaving a four year old female survivor.

Crais creates a conceivable and rapidly moving plot with a climax that took me by surprise. His peripheral characters especially Cole's partner the lethal Joe Pike and L.A. bomb squad detective the emotional and wisecracking Carol Starkey are developed with fascinating detail.

Highly recommended and you won't be disappointed!

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