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The Forgotten    by David Baldacci order for
by David Baldacci
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Army Special Agent John Puller, seen previously in Zero Day, returns in David Baldacci's engrossing new thriller, The Forgotten. John Puller is an interesting character. His cat's name is AWOL. His father, General John Puller, was a fighting legend in his time, but now suffers from dementia. His brother Robert is serving a life sentence for treason in a federal military prison; they keep in touch.

It's clear that human trafficking is the theme of this thriller when it opens on a batch of the forgotten being shipped through the Gulf of Mexico to an abandoned oil platform. One of them, a very big man, escapes and swims to shore. Readers soon realize Mecho's a man on a mission - but what exactly is he after? As Mecho reaches a beach in Paradise, Florida, he watches a hit on a man and woman - the shooter drags the corpses into the sea.

Puller's elderly aunt Betsy mails a letter to her brother, confident that either he or her nephew will sort out the mysterious night happenings she's been observing lately in Paradise. That same night she dies - local authorities call it accidental. The General gets very agitated after receiving his sister's letter, so Puller uses his leave and heads to Paradise, only to discover he's too late.

Puller makes himself unpopular with the local police chief when he starts digging, though he gets close to Officer Cheryl Landry. He also befriends a street kid named Diego. And he has help on his investigation from General Julie Carson, who was there for him on his previous case and craves action. Meanwhile Mecho works for a landscaping company on the ten acre, waterfront property of wealthy Peter Lampert.

David Baldacci masterfully knots all these plot threads together, along with nonstop action, thrills and betrayals. Soon it's serious combat in and around Paradise, Florida. John Puller and Julie Carson make a great team; let's hope for an encore!

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