The Forgotten Man (Elvis Cole Series #10)

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Overview

Elvis Cole is back...

With his acclaimed bestsellers, Hostage (a New York Times Notable Book) and Demolition Angel, Robert Crais drew raves for his unstoppable pacing, edgy characterizations, and cinematic prose. Now, in The Last Detective, Crais returns to his signature character, Los Angeles private investigator Elvis Cole, in a masterful page-turner that probes the meaning of family and the burdens of the ...
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The Forgotten Man (Elvis Cole Series #10)

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Overview

Elvis Cole is back...

With his acclaimed bestsellers, Hostage (a New York Times Notable Book) and Demolition Angel, Robert Crais drew raves for his unstoppable pacing, edgy characterizations, and cinematic prose. Now, in The Last Detective, Crais returns to his signature character, Los Angeles private investigator Elvis Cole, in a masterful page-turner that probes the meaning of family and the burdens of the past.

Elvis Cole's relationship with attorney Lucy Chenier is strained. When she moved from Louisiana to join Elvis in Los Angeles, she never dreamed that violence would so easily touch her life -- but then the unthinkable happens. While Lucy is away on business and her ten-year-old son, Ben, is staying with Elvis, Ben disappears without a trace. Desperate to believe that the boy has run away, evidence soon mounts to suggest a much darker scenario.

Joining forces with his enigmatic partner, Joe Pike, Elvis frantically searches for Ben with the help of LAPD Detective Carol Starkey, as Lucy's wealthy, oil-industry ex-husband attempts to wrest control of the investigation. Amid the maelstrom of personal conflicts, Elvis and Joe are forced to consider a more troubling lead -- one indicating that Ben's disappearance is connected to a terrible, long-held secret from Elvis Cole's past.

Venturing deep inside a complex psyche, Crais explores Elvis's need for family - the military that embraced him during a troubled adolescence, his rock-solid partnership with Pike, and his floundering relationship with Lucy - as they race the clock in their search for Ben. The Last Detective is Robert Crais' richest, most intense tale of suspense yet.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Richard Lipez
The fiftyish Cole is a wonderfully sweet creation, with his sadness over his lost loves and his pleasure in his '66 yellow Corvette convertible, and Crais is just as serious and adept with his secondary characters … where character and texture and decent spiritedness in a noir world are concerned, he's one of the real pros.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Crais's latest L.A.-based crime novel featuring super-sleuth Elvis Cole blends high-powered action, a commanding cast and a touch of dark humor to excellent dramatic effect. One morning at four, Cole gets a call from the LAPD informing him that a murdered John Doe has claimed, with his dying breath, to be Cole's father, a man Cole has never met. Cole immediately gets to work gathering evidence on the dead man-Herbert Faustina, aka George Reinnike-while cramping the style of the assigned detective, Jeff Pardy. Though Cole finds Reinnike's motel room key at the crime scene, the puzzle pieces are tough to put together, even with the unfailing help of partner Joe Pike and feisty ex-Bomb Squad techie Carol Starkey, who's so smitten with Cole that she can't think of him without smiling. Days of smart sleuthing work take the self-proclaimed "World's Greatest Detective" from a Venice Beach escort service to the California desert, then a hospital in San Diego, where doubts about Reinnike's true heritage begin to dissipate. Meanwhile, a delusional psychopath named Frederick Conrad, who is convinced that his partner in crime was killed by Cole, stalks and schemes to even the score. There's lots to digest, but this character-driven series continues to be strong in plot, action and pacing, and Crais (The Last Detective) boasts a distinctive knack for a sucker-punch element of surprise. Agent, Aaron Priest. (Feb. 15) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Private investigator Elvis Cole, recovering from his last case, faces new dangers from his past. From the author of Demolition Angel. Simultaneous with the Doubleday hardcover. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Veteran LA private eye Elvis Cole, whose return in The Last Detective (2003) after his creator stalked bigger game (Hostage, 2001, etc.) suggested a bad case of gigantism, puts it all together in the murder of his own father. The case begins with an after-hours phone call from Detective Kelly Diaz. The LAPD have found a shooting victim who begs them with his dying breath to call his son, Elvis Cole. It's quite a shock to Elvis, who's never met his father-although he's certainly put in his time looking for him-and doesn't know his name. Nor is he about to learn it from the corpse, the cops, or even the motel-room key he providentially finds at the crime scene. Could Herbert Faustina, the alias under which the victim registered at the Home Away Suites, really be the father Elvis never knew? Elvis's partner, Joe Pike, is on the case. So is Det. Carol Starkey, the ex-Bomb Squad tech stuck on oblivious Elvis, who calls her only to ask more favors. And so, to more violent effect, is gas jockey Frederick Conrad, intent first on covering up the dark secret he shared with his missing boss and then on avenging the murder he's convinced was committed by the World's Greatest Detective. A potent mix of sound detection, black humor, cut-and-run action, sensitive-male flapdoodle, and half a dozen first-class surprises. Welcome back, Elvis. Agency: Aaron Priest Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345451910
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/31/2006
  • Series: Elvis Cole Series , #10
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 169,820
  • Product dimensions: 4.17 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Crais
Robert Crais is the 2006 recipient of the Ross Macdonald Literary Award. He is the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, including The Two Minute Rule, The Forgotten Man, and L.A. Requiem.

Biography

Los Angeles is known as the city of dreams, largely because so many Americans dream of breaking into the Hollywood film and television industry. In 1976, Robert Crais went west from Louisiana to pursue that very dream. As it turned out, he became one of the lucky few to break into the industry in a big way. Crais has since written for such hugely popular TV shows as Quincy, Cagney and Lacey, Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues, and L.A. Law, just to name a few. However, after achieving such success (which included a prestigious Emmy nomination) in a business that so many would give everything to break into, Robert Crais decided to step away and pursue his true dream. Frustrated by the collaborative process that comes with screenwriting, and inspired by pulp-pioneers such as Raymond Chandler, Crais became a mystery novelist. With his massively popular Elvis Cole/Joe Pike mysteries series, it seems as though success has a funny way of following Crais no matter what he decides to do.

Crais published his very first novel in 1987. The Monkey's Raincoat introduced mystery fans to Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, a pair of L.A. private investigators who would become his most-beloved recurring characters. Crais's transition from screenwriting to novel-writing was an astoundingly smooth one. The Monkey's Raincoat earned him nominations for the Edgar, Anthony, Shamus, and Macavity awards, winning both the Anthony and Macavity for "Best Novel of the Year." Crais's publisher was so overjoyed by the novel's success that he encouraged Crais to keep the Cole/Pike team going. "I started writing these books to get away from writing other people's concepts, like TV and movies," Crais told Barnes&Noble.com. "I never expected to write these guys as a series...but the book proved to be so popular and the characters were so popular that my publisher wanted more." What followed was a series of bestselling mysteries, including Stalking the Angel (1989), Free Fall (1993), L.A. Requiem (1999), and last year's The Forgotten Man.

Although the series was not part of Crais's original plan, he still seems to hold the Cole and Pike team closer to his heart than anything he has previously written. He explained, "The characters have deepened, and I think they kind of reflect what's going on with me and the world as I see it." When asked about whether or not we can expect to see the crime-solving buddies on the big screen anytime soon, he said, "I think I would have a difficult time in the collaborative process when other people suddenly put their fingerprints on Elvis and Joe," further illustrating his personal feelings for his P.I. team.

As much as Crais loves his series, he does occasionally write novels outside of the Cole/Pike world. His latest, The Two-Minute Rule, tells the story of career criminal Max Holman, a recently released-from-prison bank robber who finds himself hunting an entirely different kind of criminal after his son is gunned down. The book has since raked in positive reviews from such publications as Booklist, Publisher's Weekly, and The Library Journal. While The Two-Minute Rule does not feature Cole and Pike, Crais fans will notice one significant similarity between his latest novel and his famous series -- the Los Angeles setting. "I can't think of a better place to set crime novels because of what Los Angeles is. Los Angeles is the main where the nation goes to make its dreams come true. When you have a place like that where so many people are risking their very identities, not just money and cash, but they're risking who they are because it's their hopes and dreams, when you have that kind of tension and that kind of friction, you can't help but have crime."

Fortunately, Crais will never have to succumb to such friction and tension since, for a success story such as he, Los Angeles completely lived up to its promise of being the city of dreams.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Crais:

"My first job was cleaning dog kennels. It was especially, ah, aromatic during those hot, humid Louisiana summers, but it prepared me for Hollywood."

"My fiction is almost always inspired by a character's need or desire to rise above him-or herself. No one is perfect and some of us have much adversity in our lives; it is those people who struggle to rise above their nature or background that I find the most interesting and heroic."

"Fun details? Like Elvis Cole, I have a dry sense of humor. Sometimes I am so dry that people don't know I'm kidding and think I'm being serious. I enjoy this because their reactions are often funny. Also, I wear beautifully colored shirts like Elvis Cole, only I was wearing them before him. People will say, ‘Look, RC dresses just like Elvis Cole,' and I'll say, 'No, Elvis Cole dresses like me!' I also wear sunglasses like Joe Pike, but not indoors and not at night."

"Elvis Cole wrote two episodes of television. No lie. It happened like this: I had written episodes of Miami Vice and Jag that were rewritten by person or persons unknown -- changed so badly that I didn't want my name on them, so I used Elvis Cole's name as a pen name."

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    1. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 20, 1953
    2. Place of Birth:
      Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    1. Education:
      B.S., Louisiana State University, 1976; Clarion Writers Workshop at Michigan State University
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

A silence filled the canyon below my house that fall; no hawks floated overhead, the coyotes did not sing, the owl that lived in the tall pine outside my door no longer asked my name. A smarter person would have taken these things as a warning, but the air was chill and clear in that magnified way it can be in the winter, letting me see beyond the houses sprinkled on the hillsides below and out into the great basin city of Los Angeles. On days like those when you can see so far, you often forget to look at what is right in front of you, what is next to you, what is so close that it is part of you. I should have seen the silence as a warning, but I did not.

“How many people has she killed?”

Grunts, curses, and the snap of punches came from the next room.

Ben Chenier shouted, “What?”

How many people has she killed?”

We were twenty feet apart, me in the kitchen and Ben in the living room, shouting at the tops of our lungs; Ben Chenier, also known as my girlfirend’s ten-year-old son, and me, also known as Elvis Cole, the World’s Greatest Detective and Ben’s caretaker while his mother, Lucy Chenier, was away on business. This was our fifth and final day together.

I went to the door.

“Is there a volume control on that thing?”

Ben was so involved with something called a Game Freak that he did not look up. You held the Game Freak like a pistol with one hand and worked the controls with the other while the action unfolded on a built-in computer screen. The salesman told me that it was a hot seller with boys ages ten to fourteen. He hadn’t told me that it was louder than a shoot-out at rush hour.

Ben had been playing the game since I had given it to him the day before, but I knew he wasn’t enjoying himself, and that bothered me. He had hiked with me in the hills and let me teach him some of the things I knew about martial arts and had come with me to my office because he thought private investigators did more than phone deadbeat clients and clean pigeon crap off balcony rails. I had brought him to school in the mornings and home in the afternoons, and between those times we had cooked Thai food, watched Bruce Willis movies, and laughed a lot together. But now he used the game to hide from me with an absolute lack of joy. I knew why, and seeing him like that left me feeling badly, not only for him, but for my part in it. Fighting it out with Yakuza spree killers was easier than talking to boys.

I went over and dropped onto the couch next to him.

“We could go for a hike up on Mulholland.”

He ignored me.

“You want to work out? I could show you another tae kwon do kata before your mom gets home.”

“Uh-uh.”

I said, “You want to talk about me and your mom?”

I am a private investigator. My work brings me into contact with dangerous people, and early last summer that danger rolled over my shores when a murderer named Laurence Sobek threatened Lucy and Ben. Lucy was having a tough time with that, and Ben had heard our words. Lucy and Ben’s father had divorced when Ben was six, and now he worried that it was happening again. We had tried to talk to him, Lucy and I, but boys—like men—find it hard to open their hearts.

Instead of answering me, Ben thumbed the game harder and nodded toward the action on the screen.

“Check it out. This is the Queen of Blame.”

Perfect.

A young Asian woman with spiky hair, breasts the size of casaba melons, and an angry snarl jumped over a Dumpster to face three musclebound steroid-juicers in what appeared to be a devastated urban landscape. A tiny halter barely covered her breasts, sprayed-on shorts showed her butt cheeks, and her voice growled electronically from the Game Freak’s little speaker.

“You’re my toilet!”

She let loose with a martial arts sidekick that spun the first attacker into the air.

I said, “Some woman.”

“Uh-huh. A bad guy named Modus sold her sister into slavery, and now the Queen is going to make him pay the ultimate price.”

The Queen of Blame punched a man three times her size with left and rights so fast that her hands blurred. Blood and teeth flew everywhere.

“Eat fist, scum!”

I spotted a pause button on the controls, and stopped the game. Adults always wonder what to say and how to say it when they’re talking with a child. You want to be wise, but all you are is a child yourself in a larger body. Nothing is ever what it seems. The things that you think you know are never certain. I know that, now. I wish that I didn’t, but I do.

I said, “I know that what’s going on between me and your mom is scary. I just want you to know that we’re going to get through this. Your mom and I love each other. We’re going to be fine.”

“I know.”

“She loves you. I love you, too.”

Ben stared at the frozen screen for a little while longer, and then he looked up at me. His little-boy face was smooth and thoughtful. He wasn’t stupid; his mom and dad loved him, too, but that hadn’t stopped them from getting divorced.

“Elvis?”

“What?”

“I had a really good time staying with you. I wish I didn’t have to leave.”

“Me, too, pal. I’m glad you were here.”

Ben smiled, and I smiled back. Funny, how a moment like that could fill a man with hope. I patted his leg.

“Here’s the plan: Mom’s going to get back soon. We should clean the place so she doesn’t think we’re pigs, then we should get the grill ready so we’re good to go with dinner when she gets home. Burgers okay?”

“Can I finish the game first? The Queen of Blame is about to find Modus.”

“Sure. How about you take her out onto the deck? She’s pretty loud.”

“Okay.”

I went back into the kitchen, and Ben took the Queen and her breasts outside. Even that far away, I heard her clearly. “Your face is pizza!” Then her victim shrieked in pain.
I should have heard more. I should have listened even harder.

Less than three minutes later, Lucy called from her car. It was twenty-two minutes after four. I had just taken the hamburger meat from my refrigerator.

I said, “Hey. Where are you?”

“Long Beach. Traffic’s good, so I’m making great time. How are you guys holding up?”

Lucy Chenier was a legal commentator for a local television station. Before that, she had practiced civil law in Baton Rouge, which is what she was doing when we met. Her voice still held the hint of a French-Louisiana accent, but you had to listen closely to hear it. She had been in San Diego covering a trial.

“We’re good. I’m getting hamburgers together for when you get here.”

“How’s Ben?”

“He was feeling low today, but we talked. He’s better now. He misses you.”

We fell into a silence that lasted too long. Lucy had phoned every night, and we laughed well enough, but our exchanges felt incomplete though we tried to pretend they weren’t.

It wasn’t easy being hooked up with the World’s Greatest Detective.

Finally, I said, “I missed you.”

“I missed you, too. It’s been a long week. Hamburgers sound really good. Cheeseburgers. With lots of pickles.”

She sounded tired. But she also sounded as if she was smiling.

“I think we can manage that. I got your pickle for ya right here.”

Lucy laughed. I’m the World’s Funniest Detective, too.

She said, “How can I pass up an offer like that?”

“You want to speak with Ben? He just went outside.”

“That’s all right. Tell him that I’m on my way and that I love him, and then you can tell yourself that I love you, too.”

We hung up and I went out onto the deck to pass along the good word, but the deck was empty. I went to the rail. Ben liked to play on the slope below my house and climb in the black walnut trees that grow further down the hill. More houses were nestled beyond the trees on the streets that web along the hillsides. The deepest cuts in the canyon were just beginning to purple, but the light was still good. I didn’t see him.

Ben?”

He didn’t answer.

“Hey, buddy! Mom called!”

He still didn’t answer.

I checked the side of the house, then went back inside and called him again, thinking maybe he had gone to the guest room where he sleeps or the bathroom.

“Yo, Ben! Where are you?”

Nothing.

I looked in the guest room and the downstairs bathroom, then went out the front door into the street. I live on a narrow private road that winds along the top of the canyon. Cars rarely pass except when my neighbors go to and from work, so it’s a safe street, and great for skateboarding.

“Ben?”

I didn’t see him. I went back inside the house. “Ben! That was Mom on the phone!”
I thought that might get an answer. The Mom Threat.

“If you’re hiding, this is a problem. It’s not funny.”

I went upstairs to my loft, but didn’t find him. I went downstairs again to the deck.
“BEN!”

My nearest neighbor had two little boys, but Ben never went over without first telling me. He never went down the slope or out into the street or even into the carport without first letting me know, either. It wasn’t his way. It also wasn’t his way to pull a David Copperfield and disappear.

I went back inside and phoned next door. I could see Grace Gonzalez’s house from my kitchen window.

“Grace? It’s Elvis next door.”

Like there might be another Elvis further up the block.

“Hey, bud. How’s it going?”

Grace calls me bud. She used to be a stuntwoman until she married a stuntman she met falling off a twelve-story building and retired to have two boys.

“Is Ben over there?”

“Nope. Was he supposed to be?”

“He was here a few minutes ago, but now he’s not. I thought he might have gone to see the boys.”

Grace hesitated, and her voice lost its easygoing familiarity for something more concerned.

“Let me ask Andrew. They could have gone downstairs without me seeing.”

Andrew was her oldest, who was eight. His younger brother, Clark, was six. Ben told me that Clark liked to eat his own snot.

I checked the time again. Lucy had called at four twenty-two; it was now four thirty-eight. I brought the phone out onto my deck, hoping to see Ben trudging up the hill, but the hill was empty.

Grace came back on the line.

“Elvis?”

“I’m here.”

“My guys haven’t seen him. Let me look out front. Maybe he’s in the street.”

“Thanks, Grace.”
Her voice carried clearly across the bend in the canyon that separated our homes when she called him, and then she came back on the line.

“I can see pretty far both ways, but I don’t see him. You want me to come over there and help you look?”

“You’ve got your hands full with Andrew and Clark. If he shows up, will you keep him there and call me?”

“Right away.”

I turned off the phone, and stared down into the canyon. The slope was not steep, but he could have taken a tumble or fallen from a tree. I left the phone on the deck and worked my way down the slope. My feet sank into the loose soil, and footing was poor.

“Ben! Where in hell are you?”

Walnut trees twisted from the hillside like gnarled fingers, their trunks gray and rough. A lone yucca tree grew in a corkscrew among the walnuts with spiky leaves like green-black starbursts. The rusted remains of a chain-link fence were partially buried by years of soil movement. The largest walnut tree pushed out of the ground beyond the fence with five heavy trunks that spread like an opening hand. I had twice climbed in the tree with Ben, and we had talked about building a tree house between the spreading trunks.

Ben!”

I listened hard. I took a deep breath, exhaled, then held my breath. I heard a faraway voice.

“BEN!”

I imagined him further down the slope with a broken leg. Or worse.

“I’m coming.”

I hurried.

I followed the voice through the trees and around a bulge in the finger, certain that I would find him, but as I went over the hump I heard the voice more clearly and knew that it wasn’t his. The Game Freak was waiting for me in a nest of stringy autumn grass. Ben was gone.

I called as loudly as I could.

“BEN!!!”

No answer came except for the sound of my own thundering heart and the Queen’s tinny voice. She had finally found Modus, a great fat giant of a man with a bullet head and pencil-point eyes. She launched kick after kick, punch after punch, screaming her vow of vengeance as the two of them fought in an endless loop through a blood-drenched room.

“Now you die! Now you die! Now you die!”

I held the Queen of Blame close, and hurried back up the hill.

2

time missing: 00 hours, 21 minutes

The sun was dropping. Shadows pooled in the deep cuts between the ridges as if the canyon was filling with ink. I left a note in the middle of the kitchen floor: STAY HERE—I’M LOOKING FOR U, then drove down through the canyon, trying to find him.

If Ben had sprained an ankle or twisted a knee, he might have hobbled downhill instead of making the steep climb back to my house; he might have knocked on someone’s door for help; he might be limping home on his own. I told myself, sure, that had to be it. Ten-year-old boys don’t simply vanish.

When I reached the street that follows the drainage below my house, I parked and got out. The light was fading faster and the murk made it difficult to see. I called for him.

Ben?”

If Ben had come downhill, he would have passed beside one of three houses. No one was home at the first two, but a housekeeper answered at the third. She let me look in their backyard, but watched me from the windows as if I might steal the pool toys. Nothing. I boosted myself to see over a cinder-block wall into the neighboring yards, but he wasn’t there, either. I called him again.

Ben!”

I went back to my car. It was all too easy and way too likely that we would miss each other; as I drove along one street, Ben might turn down another. By the time I was on that street, he could reappear behind me, but I didn’t know what else to do.

Twice I waved down passing security patrols to ask if they had seen a boy matching Ben’s description. Neither had, but they took my name and number, and offered to call if they found him.

I drove faster, trying to cover as much ground as possible before the sunset. I crossed and recrossed the same streets, winding through the canyon as if it was me who was lost and not Ben. The streets were brighter the higher I climbed, but a chill haunted the shadows. Ben was wearing a sweatshirt over jeans. It didn’t seem enough.

When I reached home, I called out again as I let myself in, but still got no answer. The note that I left was untouched, and the message counter read zero.

I phoned the dispatch offices of the private security firms that service the canyon, including the company that owned the two cars I had already spoken to. Their cars prowled the canyons every day around the clock, and the companies’ signs were posted as a warning to burglars in front of almost every house. Welcome to life in the city. I explained that a child was missing in the area and gave them Ben’s description. Even though I wasn’t a subscriber, they were happy to help.

When I put down the phone, I heard the front door open and felt a spike of relief so sharp that it was painful.

“Ben!”

“It’s me.”

Lucy came into the living room. She was wearing a black business suit over a cream top, but she was carrying the suit jacket; her pants were wrinkled from so long in the car. She was clearly tired, but she made a weak smile.

“Hey. I don’t smell hamburgers.”

It was two minutes after six. Ben had been missing for exactly one hundred minutes. It had taken Lucy exactly one hundred minutes to get home after we last spoke. It had taken me one hundred minutes to lose her son.

Lucy saw the fear in my face. Her smile dropped.

“What’s wrong?”

“Ben’s missing.”

She glanced around as if Ben might be hiding behind the couch, giggling at the joke. She knew it wasn’t a joke. She could see that I was serious.

“What do you mean, missing?”

Explaining felt lame, as if I was making excuses.

“He went outside around the time you called, and now I can’t find him. I called, but he didn’t answer. I drove all over the canyon, looking for him, but I didn’t see him. He isn’t next door. I don’t where he is.”

She shook her head as if I had made a frustrating mistake, and was getting the story wrong.

“He just left?”

I showed her the Game Freak as if it was evidence.

“I don’t know. He was playing with this when he went out. I found it on the slope.”

Lucy stalked past me and went outside onto the deck.

“Ben! Benjamin, you answer me! Ben!”

“Luce, I’ve been calling him.”

She stalked back into the house and disappeared down the hall.

“Ben!”

“He’s not here. I called the security patrols. I was just going to call the police.”

She came back and went right back onto the deck.

Damnit, Ben, you’d better answer me!”

I stepped out behind her and took her arms. She was shaking. She turned into me, and we held each other. Her voice was small and guilty against my chest.

“Do you think he ran away?”

“No. No, he was fine, Luce. He was okay after we talked. He was laughing at this stupid game.”
I told her that I thought he had probably hurt himself when he was playing on the slope, then gotten lost trying to find his way back.

“Those streets are confusing down there, the way they snake and twist. He probably just got turned around, and now he’s too scared to ask someone for help; he’s been warned about strangers enough. If he got on the wrong street and kept walking, he probably got farther away, and more lost. He’s probably so scared right now that he hides whenever a car passes, but we’ll find him. We should call the police.”

Lucy nodded against me, wanting to believe, and then she looked at the canyon. Lights from the houses were beginning to sparkle.

She said, “It’s getting dark.”

That single word: Dark. It summoned every parent’s greatest dread.

I said, “Let’s call. The cops will light up every house in the canyon until we find him.”

As Lucy and I stepped back into the house, the phone rang. Lucy jumped even more than me.

“That’s Ben.”

I answered the phone, but the voice on the other end didn’t belong to Ben or Grace Gonzalez or the security patrols.

A man said, “Is this Elvis Cole?”

“Yes. Who’s this?”

The voice was cold and low.

He said, “Five-two.”

“Who is this?”

“Five-two, motherfucker. You remember five-two?”

Lucy plucked my arm, hoping that it was about Ben. I shook my head, telling her I didn’t understand, but the sharp fear of bad memories was already cutting deep.

I gripped the phone with both hands. I needed both to hang on.

“Who is this? What are you talking about?”

“This is payback, you bastard. This is for what you did.”

I held the phone even tighter, and heard myself shout.

“What did I do? What are you talking about?”

“You know what you did. I have the boy.”

The line went dead.

Lucy plucked harder.

“Who was it? What did they say?”

I didn’t feel her. I barely heard her. I was caught in a yellowed photo album from my own past, flipping through bright green pictures of another me, a much different me, and of young men with painted faces, hollow eyes, and the damp sour smell of fear.
Lucy pulled harder.

“Stop it! You’re scaring me.”
“It was a man, I don’t know who. He says he took Ben.”

Lucy grabbed my arm with both hands.

“Ben was stolen? He was kidnapped? What did the man say? What does he want?”
My mouth was dry. My neck cramped with painful knots.

“He wants to punish me. For something that happened a long time ago.”

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 69 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(36)

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(20)

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(8)

2 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 70 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 13, 2011

    Craiis is consistently good.

    I've read a bunch of his stuff, and he just consistently puts out a superb product. His sense of flow for dialogue, plot, and character development are just head and shoulders above. If you're lookin for good drama/detective genre reading, this won't disappoint you.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2005

    Forgotten Man Should Be Forgotten

    I have recently discovered Elvis and read every single book in about 5 weeks. Would give each one a 4.5 or 5 star rating. Not so with The Forgotten Man. The plot is rather convoluted to give us flashbacks and tell us about the childhood, etc., of Elvis growing up. Frankly, I think Elvis is perfect and I don't need to hear about the past. If it ain't broke,don't fix it. This book was not as good in my opinion and also seemed to lack the typical wisecracking gumshoe and bad boy Pike we have grown to love in previous novels. As much as I hate to say so, I would suggest you skip this one. It is not up to a par with the previous books.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    Good Read

    Great plot, different & kept me guessing as to what was going on. Love Starky, she's a great character. Lucy is sickening - I was sorry to see her come back, I was thrilled when she moved away. Hope she's gone for good in next novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2005

    A Must Read!

    Robert Crais has done it again. Delivering us a novel you can not put down. Elvis Cole is an amazing character in this book. I would recommend this book to everyone who loves a good mystery crime story. Keep em coming Robert, can't wait to see what you come up with next.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    Another Great One from Crais

    I've read this book before, but needed a copy to fill out my collection. Crais is the best thing going today.

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  • Posted May 17, 2013

    highly recommended

    I love his work and this is just my kind of book. Mysteries are my favorite entertainment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2013

    Apprentives den

    Yes.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2012

    Highly recommended!

    Another excellent read from Robert Crais. He truly brings his characters to life. If only Joe Pike were a real person!

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  • Posted May 27, 2012

    Loved it! Besides doing the guy thing, which is mysterious to me

    Loved it! Besides doing the guy thing, which is mysterious to me but always lively, as a woman I can completely identify with what poor Lucy goes through trying to deal with The Guy Thing ....great series, and Crais somehow comes up with great stories time after time w/o falling into a predictable rut! Long live Cole and Pike!

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  • Posted September 4, 2011

    Definitley worth reading

    This story gives more details in the dramatic childhood of Elvis. This is well written story where Elvis is trying to find his father. Could he actually know who he is? This is worth reading. Part of a series that should be read. I really enjoyed it.

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  • Posted January 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Hard to put down this story.

    This is my second Robert Crais novel, and if I'm right I have somewhere between 9 or 10 books to go. With that said then I have some excellent books to look forward to. I thought that "The Forgotten Man" was well written, and the story flowed evenly from one chapter to the next. By midway in the story I found it hard to put the book down, but I did and picked it up the very next day. There was plenty of action surrounding the turbulent life of the private detective, Elvis Cole. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Posted September 20, 2009

    Intriging

    Great Book And a Good read if you like mysterys

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2009

    A Great Series

    Since I read this book, I have ordered and read Series 1-6 of Elvis Cole and loved every minute. I am now ordering the remainder of the series. Crais' writing is fun to read. Elvis' lines and on-going commentary is funny and holds your interest from front to back. He is now on my author watch list. I will buy everything he writes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2008

    Unforgotten

    Elvis turns over every possible stone in this story to find a link to his mysterious father. This book definitely was a page turner I couldn't put down! The end is shocking here, but believable even sad as I became involved with the characters and why a woman would do away with a person she came in contact with, because she jumped to conclusions the way I did during her investigation of her family's murderer.There is a person who just really shocks me here, but I wouldn't want to give that away for someone who may not have read it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2006

    Keep 'Em Coming

    As with all the Elvis Cole books, this was another great read. Crais has created characters that are a joy to read about. Can't wait for the next installment in this great series

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2005

    A reviewer

    I just finished all the Elvis Cole books & really enjoyed them. I would like to see Elvis & Lucy get married. I believe the stories would be just as interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2005

    'Looking Back'

    If you were to write out the story line, this may appear to be just another Elvis Cole murder mystery. It is, however, much more than that. It's almost like 'Worlds Greatest Detective meets Fields of Dreams',as Elvis searches for the murderer of someone that, as a dying declaration, says that he is the father that Cole never met. It's also vintage Crais, as he goes deeper into the psyche of his lead character, with all his flaws and weaknesses, and still maintains the excitement of a fine murder mystery. This may be Crais at his very best, as Elvis Cole searches for the killer, while looking deep into himself for redemption, and questions that he may not actually want the answer to.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2005

    He's Back!!!

    Robert Crais compiled 116 rejection letters before he sold his first short story. No doubt there are 116 editors that have been kicking their own butts because Crais has become one of todays most popular mystery writers. THE FORGOTTEN MAN is the tenth in his Elvis Cole series that began with THE MONKEY¿S RAINCOAT in 1987. He has also written two stand alone novels and worked on TV shows including Baretta, Cagney and Lacey and Hill Street Blues. Currently Robert Crais is working with Bruce Willis to bring one of those stand alones, HOSTAGE, to the big screen; a major undertaking but one that is sure to catapult the writer into even greater notoriety. THE FORGOTTEN MAN takes Elvis Cole on another adventure that reveals more of his history and provides readers with insight into their favorite detective¿s psyche. Like millions of young people, Elvis Cole never knew his father and his mother was often absent, even when she was with him. The empty spot that this universal phenomenon leaves in the heart of a little boy is only beginning to be acknowledged by teachers, psychologists and ministers. That empty spot will cause a seemingly normal man to go beyond the boundaries of good sense in order to fill it with the knowledge of who his father really is, who he was. In addition to his relentless search for the killer of a man who claimed to be his father, Elvis Cole is still pining for Lucy Chenier. She is his lost sweetheart, who found that loving a detective included a little more danger than she was willing to risk. That danger means absolutely nothing to Detective Carol Starkey, formerly of the LA Bomb Squad, who has become increasingly infatuated with Elvis and longs to take their relationship to the next level. Cole¿s best friend and enigmatic partner, Joe Pike, is also present in a minor but essential role. THE FORGOTTEN MAN continues with the solemn mood and manner that began in L.A. REQUIEM. Elvis Cole, World¿s Greatest Detective (it says so on his business card) is no longer the same wisecracking innocent that solved crimes with abandon in his previous seven adventures. A change took place in L.A.R that impelled a more serious, more introspective Cole to emerge. For fans it has been like watching a favorite nephew grow up; you enjoy and appreciate the adult he has become but sometimes miss the carefree, crazy youth he was. Although tight writing and crisp dialog still move the story there is more emphasis on character development and growing self-awareness. While it has been interesting and enlightening to go down several roads less traveled with Elvis and Joe, I, for one, am ready for another old-fashioned road trip!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2005

    FIRST-RATE STORY AND VOICE PERFORMANCE

    If you like crime writing, you've surely read some titles by Robert Crais. If you're lucky, you've read a few of his stories featuring Elvis Cole, a likable, laconic private detective. Cole is tough but totally accessible as readers sympathize with the man who does not know his father and knows too well that his mother was mentally deficient. Cole's is also a man who knows all too well that when the phone rings before sunrise it can only mean trouble. He's right. An LAPD officer calls to ask him to come down and identify a body. When Cole persists in asking why they're calling him, he's told that before the man died he said he was Cole's father. Apparently homeless the man had been found shot in an alley. Voice performer Jack Daniels captures Cole's strengths and vulnerability as Cole tries to unearth the past and discover the dead man's identity. Was he Cole's father? At times, searches reveal what we don't want to discover. That's precisely what happens to Cole. Someone who knew the dead man believes Cole is searching for him. This person does not want to be found, and will kill to make sure he isn't. Listeners will thoroughly enjoy following a path of clues with Cole, his buddy Joe Pike, and LAPD detective Carol Starkey. - Gail Cooke

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2005

    I detect another winner in a great series.

    I started this series more than halfway through with L.A. Requiem. A friend loaned me a beat up old copy and said, 'read this'. I forced myself to read the first ten pages, didn't get into the opening, and then put it away. A month later, on a family trip to Disneyland, I needed something to get me through the flight and grabbed it as we were leaving the house (it seemed appropriate for the trip, anyway). I read the entire book by the time we landed in Orange County. Barely a month later, and I've ripped through the entire series and both of Crais' other novels, and have been patiently suffering the last few weeks for this latest. I've gotta admit, I'm hooked. As usual, the writing is fluid and breezy, the plotting is nicely done with more than a few nifty twists, and Crais handles the evolution and growth of Elvis Cole and his literary acquaintances as if they were personal friends. I would've read the book for the character development alone; the serial killer seemed an almost unneccessary plot point. As per usual, the ending broke me down, and I can't wait for the next in the series (will Cole realize that Starkey's in love with him? Will Lucy stop being a fool and move back to L.A.? What happened to the cat? The soap opera continues...). I do wonder: Just how old is Elvis Cole? And Pike? As Vietnam vet's, they've gotta be pushing 50, even though it reads as if the characters are in their mid-30's. And I've gotta think Crais has a death wish for them. Lucy's right. Just how many times can these poor greybeards get shot and mutilated and keep coming back? As Dennis Lehane noted about his Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro characters; how much more can they take before they're dead? I'd hate to see this series take a hiatus, but...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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