Customer Reviews: The Forgotten
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This is the second book in Baldacci's Reacher-like series featuring John Puller, a military cop. The Forgotten picks up from where Zero Day left off, but it's not necessary to have read that book previously. Whilst the events from that book are referred to occasionally, there are no spoilers given.

When the book opens, Puller is contemplating returning to work after a brief vacation taken to recover from the events of Zero Day, when his father receives a worrying letter from Puller's Aunt Betsy, who lives in Paradise, Florida. She alludes to something dodgy going on and "mysterious happenings at night". Puller goes down to Florida to visit his aunt, but when he gets there he discovers that she has recently deceased, having drowned in her backyard in what the police have decided was an accident. Given the letter she just wrote, Puller is not convinced it was an accident and starts to investigate further. Almost immediately it becomes apparent that there is more than meets the eye to the entire affair.

At the same time, there is a mysterious man who has literally washed up in town. He has arrived on a mission, but we don't know what that mission is or whether he is going to turn out to be a villain or a hero. He is Puller's match in every way.

The first half of the book develops slowly but maintains the intrigue as Puller pursues his investigations. In the second half things start to come together and the action builds. There are several twists along the way.

It's impossible to avoid the comparison to Lee Child's books because the lead character and overall formula are so similar. If you enjoy Child's books, you're pretty sure to like this too. It's not as good as Child at his best - it doesn't hold your attention as well and Puller is not as charismatic as Reacher. But it's as good or better than several of the recent Reacher instalments. I find Baldacci pretty hit and miss as a writer, but this one works.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 26, 2012
Now that Oliver Stone and the Camel Club are over, David Baldacci is looking for a key player for a new series. Welcome to Military Criminal Investigator, John Puller Jr, who some of you will have met first in "Zero Day". Puller is basically a military policeman, over 6 feet tall, very athletic and powerful but with battle wounds from active service, great with weapons and a diligent and brilliant investigator. After the traumas of "Zero Day" Puller went off for some post stress R & R - "He had no map, no plan, no destination".

Does all of this sound a bit familiar, a bit like Jack Reacher? Of course it does. We all love Jack Reacher but after so many iterations his adventures are getting a bit thin and repetitious. So let's see what Puller can offer. Firstly he is still in the military although this adventure starts out as a personal investigation. His aunt who raised him sent a letter saying "people are not being who they seemed". When Puller arrives in Florida he finds that she has been drowned in her back-yard fountain, which the police think is accidental. Puller he gets involved with the local police in trying to convince them that it was murder. Like Zero Day, a simple investigation quickly uncovers something far more sinister and dangerous.

The finale is fast and furious escapist nonsense with a team of unlikely goodies, including some kick-ass females, taking care of almost a football team of nasty baddies.

Did I enjoy it? Yes because I like Baldacci's page-turning style and characterisation, with well thought-out plot. Did I worry about the Jack Reacher similarity? Yes, because Baldacci should be able to create a new character without apparently having to plagiarize another one. What is my greatest concern? That someone might have plans for a John Puller movie with Tom Cruise in the lead role.

I worried over an appropriate rating and came up with 3.5 stars (somewhere between Amazon's "OK" [3 stars] and "I like it" [4 stars]. In the end because I did enjoy it I rounded it back to 4 stars. Would I read the next Baldacci book, even if it was John Puller again. I think so.

PS (EDITED) Someone who commented pointed out that Lee Child gets a bit of revenge in his latest Reacher book "A Wanted Man", by introducing a dim witted deputy named John Puller. I'm sorry I missed the connection. When Reacher met Puller and found he was a dim wit, he said "Were you dropped on your head as a baby?" ROFL!
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on November 23, 2012
John Puller is an Army criminal investigator on leave, while looking into his Aunt's disappearance. He spars with the local police of a small affluent Florida town, as he noses into their investigation while the disappearances mount, leading to a sinister story line.

It's a slow moving tale without any major surprise. There is just enough development to keep the reader interested, hoping for a Reacher like conclusion (as it is a Reacher like book, however not as blatant as the authors Zero Day), although winds up with a grade B finale, that is a bit far fetched.

I thought the character Mecho stole the show from Puller, an intriguing enigma who was the most interesting part of the book imo. The inclusion of Puller's boss, General Julie Carson, to help him in the field half way into the book was strange...a Captain maybe, but a General?

The similarity to Lee Child's 'Jack Reacher' continues, and there is also a bit of Brian Haig's 'Major Sean Drummond' evolving. Mr. Baldacci's seems to be reaching at straws looking for a winner beyond the Camel Club series, with the release of 3 new hardcovers in the past four months. I think the best of the bunch was "The Innocent", with the clean new character Will Robie, a much better prospect than John Puller.
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on November 5, 2012
For me David Baldacci is a problem. When one of his books arrive I get nothing else done until I have finished reading it - I just can't stop. This book is just as good as all the others. Baldacci tells a good story in a style that is easy to read and his plot is simple to follow. When is the next one coming?
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on December 24, 2012
This is the first John Puller novel by Baldacci for me. The protagonist is a Jack Reacher wannabe. He is a military cop still in service with a demented retired general for a father. Like Reacher he is very tall, tough and indestructible. The story takes place when Puller is on vacation and starts looking into the suspicious death of his aunt in a small resort coastal town in Florida. Then it evolves into a complex tale of human trafficking and three different parties including Puller trying get the bad guys. Initially the three are on parallel tracks but incredibly merge and create mayhem. Throw in a female one star general who has the hots for Puller and you begin to get the picture. Like most mystery and action story writers Baldacci is woefully inept when it comes to gratuitous soft porn and should stay away from it. I think he should also refrain from the action stuff. The last few action packed chapters of this book are painful to read and I found myself skipping over pages. Most of the stuff is laughably impossible. Like the one star general who while on vacation can with a simple phone call scramble up a combat helicopter to aid the good guys. Like how our action heroes navigate the rough seas in the wake of a hurricane in the middle of the night in a small boat and reach their destination absolutely intact. I could go on but will stop. Suffice to say I will not be reading any more Puller stories. If I crave for more mindless bravado and simplistic plot lines I will stick with Jack Reacher, thank you.
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on December 10, 2012
I liked the early Baldacci novels, but his recent stuff has been progressively worse, and this one is downright bad. The character Puller is a poor Jack Reacher imitation, most of the other characters are poorly developed , the dialog is often nonsensical, and the plot is so ridiculous it's laughable. I'm wondering where all the 5 star reviews came from - did these people read the same lousy book I just read??
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on December 12, 2012
Baldacci held off for a long time. Each of his stories were standalone's; all compelling, full of action, and complete with fully-developed characters. Then came the Camel Club. The first couple were great. The premise was unique and the characters colourful and different. After the third one, it became a series and was subject to what I call the "series disease": reduced character development and increased empty action to make up for it.
But Baldacci is a great writer and is smart enough to know that continuing a series when you're knowna as a standalone writer is an annoying trend taken up by many of the greats these days.
So he didn't succumb, sort of.
Enter John Puller. Admittedly a Jack Reacher type but Baldacci's talents are different to Child's and Puller was a great standalone, one-time character. So why does he show up again in this book? The story is great and the lead character could easily have been Mecho (the reluctant sidekick). Baldacci had the makings of a unique, different and colourful protagonist in Mecho. But he sours it by throwing in a continuation of Puller and the military angle. Totally unnecessary, I thought.
Maybe it's not the writer's fault. Perhaps the industry is telling our great storytellers that the reader wants and likes repetition, ongoing saga's, whatever. Personally, I think we should all band together by complaining that we don't want to fill our reading lives with repetetive plots, characters, and storylines. If that were the case, we would all read the adventure genre. Writers like Baldacci are better than that. They are fully capable of developing a fresh set of characters every time.
The only thing that saved this book was the plot. It was worthy of the genre. But as said, it didn't need John Puller to pull it off.
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on December 23, 2012
This clinker is 97 chapters (yes, 97!) too long. Should've ended at the dedication. But if you're determined to read it anyway then, just for fun, keep track of how many times the word "problematic" is used. At least that little game will keep you somewhat distracted from the monotony of this turkey.

My main objections to this novel were the characters, storyline, and writing style. Other than that, though, it was fine. To be more specific, the characters were barely two-dimensional and therefore, I couldn't have cared less what happened to any of them. The dialogue was amateurish and unreal. The storyline had as many holes in it as a slice of Swiss cheese. It read more like a "superheroes" adventure or a video game, where the good guys had superhuman strength, perception, and marksmanship. The problem is, they weren't billed as superheroes. This story had so many problems that I could never lose myself in it, and every silly line out of a character's mouth took me further and further away.

I don't normally write bad reviews. In fact, this is only my second. But the author wasted a decent amount of my time and patience so I figured something good should come out of it. And if I could save just one reader their time and money, well, that's something.
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on January 29, 2013
And this one is a true stinker. The irony--supreme irony--is that he thanks FIFTY PEOPLE by name for helping him with this piece of trash. They should sue him for defamation!

Forget charges of plagiarizing Lee Child. Lee Child has nothing to worry about. This is drivel!

The primary premise of this book is that a finance guy that made and lost a billion dollars as a hedge fund manager has gone into the slavery business, importing hijacked people into America to sell! The idea that a man could build a huge business off slavery in this country, capturing and importing several hundred humans/week is just too much disbelief to suspend, even for a minute. He builds this "business" by insuring that every slave believes that if they don't quietly tow the line their family back home will be attacked and killed. Once there are hundreds of slaves spread out in innumerable directions, who is going to keep track of that? However, the villain has access to an unlimited supply of security people that are without scruple, moral or redeeming virtue, but it's "just a job" for them. Do you suppose he recruits them off Craig's List? The action is ridiculous, and without the taut writing and vivid imagery you could get from, say, Lee Child. John Puller is certainly no Jack Reacher.

Research is completely missing. The most glaring example is when he refers to Bulgaria as being part of the former Soviet Union. (For you younger readers who missed out on all the fun of the cold war, Bulgaria was a SEPARATE nation beginning in 671 C.E. that was a member of the Warsaw Pact after WWII, an enemy of the West and NATO. Today, it is a member of NATO and the European Community.)

The possible return of slavery presents an interesting challenge for aspiring novelists. That it would be done successfully on a massive basis in any western democracy is ridiculous. It just would enjoy no political popularity, hence it would have no support!

Don't buy this book!
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on April 17, 2013
I can't remember the last time I closed a book halfway through, with no intention of ever reopening it. Baldacci has produced one of the most forgettable novels I've ever read, and in over 70 years of reading, that says a lot. As an Army careerist, with years of observations of CID investigations and investigators, it cracks me up to see the Superman image created for Agent Puller, the central character. He apparently operates as an independent force, combating evil-doers throughout the world. Need a reason to be involved in a case that has nothing to do with the Army? Simple. Just tell your headquarters that some guys with crewcuts are following you. Any objections? Just use the fear and respect generated by mentioning the name of your father, a retired 3-star general who is currently commanding a bed in a dementia ward. Need some firepower? Call a female general in CID (there must be hundreds of them) who has the hots for you and ask her to send you some automatic weapons and other toys. Double down by having her fly out in a military aircraft to deliver them personally, and then team up with you to shoot it out with the bad guys. OMG. I could go on, but I'm trying to forget this. I can only reason that the 5-star reviews came from the same people who avidly watch NCIS and think it bears any resemblance to reality.
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