The Forgotten Man opens with a powerful flashback -- a mother, father and son have been brutally murdered and a four-year-old girl has been left behind to witness the awful results.
Since Lucy Chenier left town with her son, Elvis Cole hasn't been sleeping all that well. A call from Detective Kelly Diaz of LAPD at 3:58 a.m. finds him not really asleep. A homicide victim has been found in a dangerous alley and with his dying breath has said that he's looking for Elvis, his son. The victim's pockets reveal newspaper clippings about Elvis. With that call, Elvis is thrown back into his childhood trauma of never having met his father and having a mother who wasn't all there.
Riveted by this information, Elvis asks to investigate the case along with the LAPD. Despite occasional friction, "the world's greatest detective" is soon ahead of the police and rapidly tracking down who the John Doe is.
The story alternates narrators between Elvis, Carol Starkey and a villain. In this way, Mr. Crais keeps us ahead of Elvis in knowing what's going on.
For those who like Elvis, the superman, this book will be a disappointment. He's so emotionally under the weather because of losing Lucy and with this new hunt for his father that Elvis is having trouble functioning. You'll think that you are reading about a binging alcoholic (although that's not his problem) rather than Elvis Cole. I suspect that these readers will find this to be a 2 or a 3 star book.
The best parts of this book come in flashbacks to the young Elvis as he repeatedly runs away from home to find his father. I was impressed that Mr. Crais could write such emotionally strong material. It's quite a contrast with his usual action style.
This novel is about retribution, justice, and ultimately coming to peace with the past. In this novel we learn about the childhood of Crais' serial hero Elvis Cole. We are reunited with characters from previous novels, in particular the Demoltion Angel herself: Carol Starkey. Crais' writing style is brilliant- if you start this novel be prepared to stay up late at night. The humour of Cole is as sharp as ever, as is Starkey's sardonic temperment. Do not hesitate to read this book!
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Crais never fails to entertain.July 17 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
Elvis Cole dwells in the past in this, Robert Crais' 10th novel featuring the "world's greatest detective". And while Crais' readers love the wise-cracking detective, many of us read the series as much for Joe Pike, his scary, warrior-like back up system. Tough turn, then, that Pike is merely an afterthought in this book.
Taking up much of the slack is Carol Starkey, the alcoholic, former bomb-squad detective who starred in Crais' "Demolition Angel" and met up with Elvis in "The Last Detective". Carol's having strong romantic feelings for Elvis, but he's not ready for a new love yet, still licking his wounds from the breakup with former paramour Lucy and her son Ben, who appear briefly.
The story allows the reader to break into the murky past of Elvis, when a man is shot, who has been looking for his son. As a child, Elvis was on an endless quest to discover the identity of his father; his mother suffered from an emotional disorder and his grandparents could hardly restrain his need to wander, to try to find himself. He's had a rough childhood, and the possibility that the dead man is his father draws him out of a depression and into the mainstream of the police investigation. During the track of the novel, a character named Frederick, a paranoid schizophrenic, lurks in the background, convinced that Cole was responsible for the death of his friend Payne.
As his search for the truth about the dead man evolves, Cole starts to shed light on a cold case, rediscovering his power to energetically pursue answers as he buries himself in his work. A little oblivious to Starkey's feelings, Cole is nevertheless drawn to her by mutual need on the case, and by the recognition that she's another tortured soul. Elvis may be the wittiest of today's detectives in this genre, but Crais proves here that he's not just witty, lucky and likeable, he's also the product of his past.
Although "The Forgotten Man" is not nearly the book "The Last Detective" was, Crais continues to disarm his readers and keeps the series alive.
There's some complexity here, and some surprises at the end, and Crais fans will be begging for more Elvis Cole when the story concludes. For my money, any real 5 star Elvis Cole story will also bring more action and reaction with the inclusion of the volatile Joe Pike in the story.
Recommended for fans who like their thrillers in series, but read the earlier books first.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
What's the best thing about this novel?March 22 2005
Michael D. Trimble
- Published on Amazon.com
Well the best thing is this book was my FIRST Robert Crais novel. That means, as best I can figure, there are eleven more books of his to read before the next one comes out! So I have lots to look forward to and can imagine that long time Crais fans probably envy me.
Since I have not read anything else Crais has done, I am able to judge this book on its own merits without comparing it to his other stories. That said, it is well written, the story flows from scene to scene in an orderly and logical fashion. I know it sounds cliché but this book was hard to put down. The chapters are short and it is easy to read JUST ONE MORE chapter before going to bed. There was plenty of action, which is what you expect from detectives, and there were lots of witty repartee and cracking wise between the characters. Most of the best lines come as Crais let's us hear the thinking of his characters, so the lines aren't necessarily spoken to anyone.
Elvis Cole (the man around whom the book is written) is a great PI, extremely introspective with lots of endearing qualities, and if you enjoy reading authors who develop their cast over the course of a series of books, then I would have to say that Robert Crais has the franchise for you. He seems every bit as good as Robert B. Parker, perhaps more so since this book has the "thriller thing" going for it.
Highly recommended and you won't be disappointed!
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A GLIMPLSE INSIDE THE SOUL OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST DETECTIVEFeb. 20 2005
Wayne C. Rogers
- Published on Amazon.com
I've been reading Robert Crais since 1992, and I'm still like a little kid whenever a new "Elvis Cole/Joe Pike" novel comes out. After waiting for two long years, I tried to make THE FORGOTTEN MAN last, but ended up reading it in one day. The newest novel continues a few months where THE LAST DETECTIVE left off. Elvis Cole has recovered from the wound in his hand, Lucy Chenier and her son, Ben, are now living permanently in Louisiana, the publicity has finally died down from the rescue of Ben from the kidnappers by Cole and Pike, and the World's Greatest Detective is now at a lost on what to do with his life now that Lucy and Ben are gone. When the telephone rings at 3:58 in the morning and a voice tells Cole that a man has been killed who, in his last few breaths, claimed to be the Detective's long, lost father, a new adventure begins that will lead our hero on a journey of deep introspection and eventually to personal tragedy. Along the way, the reader will learn of Cole's search for his father as a thirteen-year-old boy and what led him to become a detective many years later, why his mother would disappear for months at a time, leaving him with his grandparents. The reader will also jump up and down at the return of Carol Starkey (DEMOLITION ANGEL & THE LAST DETECTIVE), who now has a crush of the World's Greatest Detective, but is afraid to let him know. With the help of his close friends, Elvis Cole will track down the killer of the man who claimed to be his father, but at a cost that is devastating, leaving the reader numb and shocked, which is exactly how the author planned it. THE FORGOTTEN MAN is Robert Crais at his best, delivering a story that is both compelling and fun to read. It's been a tremendous pleasure to watch Mr. Crais grow as a writer over the last decade, as well as to see the characters of Elvis Cole and Joe Pike evolve. This is definitely one of the best series on the market today, and I highly recommend it any reader who loves suspense and action
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
An EPIC return!!!!Feb. 15 2005
Don In Fremont
- Published on Amazon.com
Our long national nightmare is over.
Yes folks, Elvis Cole is back. And with big ups to President Ford, the wait since Robert Crais delivered The Last Detective has been, well, both long and nightmarish. And things weren't all rosy for the World's Greatest Detective, either. We remembered. We waited.
The Forgotten Man, is the tenth (!) entry in the continuing tale of the afore-mentioned private eye, and is easily the most intense on various levels. What Crais accomplishes in this book will be discussed beyond the normal news cycle for such things, this much is certain. The Last Detective was Top 5 on the New York Times list, so the round is chambered, and the safety is off. This book should ignite in the marketplace.
We are reunited with Our Hero in the middle of the night, as he is awakened by a phone call. Informed by the police a man has been found, shot dead in an alley, and his final words spoke to a desire to find his son, one Elvis Cole. That on the body were clippings related to Elvis' big case a while back. We are reminded Elvis never knew his father. Cole's life wasn't that great before the phone rang, and clearly it's not going to improve anytime soon.
And thus Crais skillfully brings us forward and back--into the crazed violence of events populating the "big case" in The Last Detective, and left Elvis in such a state as this. Those new to his writing, have no fear, you will feel fully informed in short order. And then hang on to something.
As Elvis gets into the new case, we are of course re-introduced to Joe Pike, Cole's enigmatic partner, radiating both menace and calm. We like to think Crais honors the tradition of the sidekick with Joe Pike. That's tradition, not cliche'. Not to mention that Crais has spent an incredible amount of time, and most of L. A. Requiem, giving full voice to Pike as a core value of the series. And we are re-introduced to Carol Starkey, first seen in Demolition Angel, and fast becoming vital to this series as well. The voice with which Crais writes her scenes is full of grit and honey. She is a great character and brings the series a fresh breath. There are numerous scenes with Starkey where the empathetic reader will nearly ache for her, she's written that well.
Pike and Starkey pitch in to help Elvis deal with the possibilities this case presents, and they are many. Elvis had a very organized mythology about his unknown father, and the idea that lying on a slab in the morgue might be the icon of that mythology, and could either codify or explode that mythology, staggers him.
Crais brings us to a point where we realize that, hey, we really don't know that much about Elvis' youth. We've known just enough, but it's limited. The soul of The Forgotten Man is the light Crais shines on young Elvis' quest to find his father. We meet people are vital to what Cole has become, and some of them play a role in the book's current events as well, so that's fun.
Over the course of the last three books, Crais has been taking Elvis down a pretty dark road. The first few books in the series were more of the straight-ahead variety. Massively entertaining, laugh-out-loud funny in places, action-packed and dialogue-smart. Then, as we moved into Indigo Slam and Sunset Express, it was clear Crais wasn't content in that place, that he was going to challenge us, and we'd best keep up.
With the last three books, he's shifting the borders of the PI novel. Crais' game has benefited much from the long break between L. A. Requiem and The Last Detective, when he wrote stand-alone best-sellers Demolition Angel and Hostage. The freedom gained from working outside the genre, plus the clout the success of the stand-alones brought, has allowed him to seamlessly push genre limits.
We go deep into the story of Elvis, the youngster who saturated a road-weary carnival crew with his lost-boy energy as he searched for his father, believed to be a vagabond performer. We forget the web of homicidal deviation Crais is weaving in a separate narrative. But when we are brought back, it's with a series of jolts that refresh our memories of the potential darkness of the human heart. It becomes clear early on that Elvis is hunting a psychopath, and it doesn't take too long for the tables to turn him, unknowingly, from hunter to hunted.
Lest you think this all sounds too morose, think again. The things that have become tradition in Elvisland---the investigational set-pieces, the snappy banter between Elvis and pretty much everyone---they are here, and they are better than ever. The shadings Crais has given to his characters over the course of nearly 20 years give more resonance to the humor. It becomes an island in a sea of relentless narrative propulsion.
So, let's talk about the end. When you read it, you can almost picture Crais wiping the sweat from his own brow. It's breakneck fiction at its prime, and will make for you a happy prison until you finish. And it's made more real by the interludes that come before it, the heartbreaking recollections of Elvis' young life. The way Crais' weaves the two concepts together is startling.
The Forgotten Man is the first great mystery novel of 2005. I can't imagine many more joining its rarified air. Crais has evolved and matured as a writer in a way that connects with the central nervous system of the reader, and to that, I must simply quote another Elvis and say--thank you very much!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Gone, but not forgotten.....Oct. 20 2006
Red Rock Bookworm
- Published on Amazon.com
Robert Crais possesses the sure hand of a master when it comes to spinning a gripping, tension filled and emotionally involving story.
The main plot of his latest yarn has to do with Elvis Cole trying to determine the identity of the man who has made a dying statement alluding to the fact that he is Coles long lost father, a man Elvis has searched for most of his life. Is he or isn't he?? His attempt to get at the truth finds Elvis enmeshed in a spider-web of mystery and suspense.
Returning characters introduced in previous Crais books include, Carol Starkey, maimed cop of Demolition Angel fame, and her "not so hidden" feelings for Elvis; Lucy, the love of Elvis's life, who loves him but can't seem to accept his choice of profession...and of course Elvis's best friend, the ever wonderful Joe Pike. Add a couple of new cops and a lunatic or two to the mix and you have all the ingredients for an enjoyable read.