Long Lostby David Morrell
Brad Denning is a successful architect living a perfect life in Denver with his loving wife and son. Or so it would be, if not for the haunting memory of his brother Petey who disappeared while under Brad's supervision when they were kids. Now, a man claiming to be his sibling has mysteriously appeared and Brad is eager to take him in, despite the man's haggard appearance and reluctance to reveal anything about his past. "Petey" is a welcome addition to the family, until a camping trip goes terribly wrong and Brad returns home to find that his devoted wife and son have been abducted. Certain that Petey -- or whoever he may be -- is responsible for the horrible crime, Brad sets out to recover his family. Travelling alone through America's heartland, it's a race against time as Brad struggles to get to his family before the terrible secret of what really happened long ago destroys everything he cares about.
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By David Morrell
Warner BooksCopyright © 2002 David Morrell
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhen I was a boy, my kid brother disappeared. Vanished off the face of the earth. His name was Petey, and he was bicycling home from an after-school baseball game. Not that he'd been playing. The game was for older guys like me, which is to say that I was all of thirteen and Petey was only nine. He thought the world of me; he always wanted to tag along. But the rest of the guys complained that he was in the way, so I told Petey to "bug off, go home." I still remember the hurt look he gave me before he got on his bike and pedaled away, a skinny little kid with a brush cut, glasses, braces on his teeth, and freckles, wearing a droopy T-shirt, baggy jeans, and sneakers-the last I saw of him. That was a quarter of a century ago. Yesterday.
By the time supper was ready and Petey hadn't shown up, my mother phoned his friends in the neighborhood, but they hadn't seen him. Twenty minutes later, my father called the police. His worst fear (until that moment at least) was that Petey had been hit by a car, but the police dispatcher said that there hadn't been any accidents involving a youngster on a bicycle. The dispatcher promised to call back if he heard anything and, meanwhile, to have patrol cars looking for him.
My father couldn't bear waiting. He had me show him the likely route Petey would have taken between the playground and home. We drove this way and that. By then it was dusk, and we almost passed the bicycle before I spotted one of its red reflectors glinting from the last of the sunset. The bike had been shoved between bushes in a vacant lot. Petey's baseball glove was under it. We searched the lot. We shouted Petey's name. We asked people who lived on the street if they'd seen a boy who matched Petey's description. We didn't learn anything. As my father sped back home, the skin on his face got so tight that his cheekbones stood out. He kept murmuring to himself, "Oh Jesus."
All I could hope was that Petey had stayed away because he was mad at me for sending him home from the baseball game. I fantasized that he'd show up just before bedtime and say, "Now aren't you sorry? Maybe you want me around more than you guess." In fact, I was sorry, because I couldn't fool myself into believing that Petey had shoved his bike between those bushes-he loved that bike. Why would he have dropped his baseball glove? Something bad had happened to him, but it never would have happened if I hadn't told him to get lost.
My mom became hysterical. My dad called the police again. A detective soon arrived, and the next day, a search was organized. The newspaper (this happened in a town called Woodford, just outside Columbus, Ohio) was filled with the story. My parents went on television and radio, begging whoever had kidnapped Petey to return him. Nothing did any good.
I can't begin to describe the pain and ruin that Petey's disappearance caused. My mother needed pills to steady her nerves. Lots of times in the night, I heard her sobbing. I couldn't stop feeling guilty for making Petey leave the baseball game. Every time I heard our front door creak open, I prayed it was him coming home at last. My father started drinking and lost his job. He and Mom argued. A month after he moved out, he was killed when his car veered off a highway, flipped several times, and crashed onto its roof. There wasn't any life insurance. My mother had to sell the house. We moved to a small apartment and then went to live with my mom's parents in Columbus. I spent a lot of time worrying about how Petey would find us if he returned to the house.
He haunted me. I grew older, finished college, married, had a son, and enjoyed a successful career. But in my mind Petey never aged. He was still that skinny nine-year-old giving me a hurt look, then bicycling away. I never stopped missing him. If a farmer had plowed up the skeleton of a little boy and those remains had somehow been identified as Petey's, I'd have mourned bitterly for my kid brother, but at least there would have been some finality. I needed desperately to know what had happened.
I'm an architect. For a while, I was with a big firm in Philadelphia, but my best designs were too unorthodox for them, so I finally started my own business. I also decided it would be exciting to change locales-not just move to another East Coast city but move from the East Coast altogether. My wife surprised me by liking the idea even more than I did. I won't go into all the reasons we chose Denver-the lure of the mountains, the myth of the West. The main thing is, we settled there, and almost from the start, my designs were in demand.
Two of my office buildings are situated next to city parks. They not only blend with but also reflect their surroundings; their glass and tile walls act like huge mirrors that capture the images of the ponds, trees, and grassland near them, one with nature. My houses are what I was especially proud of, though. Many of my clients lived near megadollar resorts like Aspen and Vail, but they respected the mountains and didn't want to be conspicuous. They preferred to be with nature without intruding upon it. I understood. The houses I designed blended so much that you couldn't see them until you were practically at their entrances. Trees and ridges concealed them. Streams flowed under them. Flat stretches of rock were decks. Boulders were steps. Cliffs were walls.
It's ironic that structures designed to be inconspicuous attracted so much attention. My clients, despite their claims about wanting to be invisible, couldn't resist showing off their new homes. House Beautiful and Architectural Digest did articles about them, although the photographs of the exteriors seemed more like nature shots than pictures of homes. The local CBS TV station taped a two-minute spot for the ten o'clock news. The reporter, dressed as a hiker, challenged her viewers to a game: "Can you see a house among these ridges and trees?" She was standing ten feet from a wall, but only when she pointed it out did the viewer realize how thoroughly the house was camouflaged. That report was noticed by CBS headquarters in New York, and a few weeks later, I was being interviewed for a ten-minute segment on the CBS Sunday Morning show.
I keep asking myself why I agreed. Lord knows, I didn't need any more publicity to get business. So if it wasn't for economic reasons, it must have been because of vanity. Maybe I wanted my son to see me on television. In fact, both he and my wife appeared briefly in a shot where we walked past what the reporter called one of my "chameleon" houses. I wish we'd all been chameleons.
Excerpted from Long Lost by David Morrell Copyright © 2002 by David Morrell . Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
David Morrell (b. 1960) is a Canadian-born author of thrillers best known for his 1972 book First Blood, which introduced the character Rambo and was later popularized through the Sylvester Stallone film series. Morrell has written more than two dozen novels that have been translated into 30 languages. He lives in New Mexico.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This book begins with a quick tale of the disappearance of Brad Denning's brother, Petey when they were children. Fast forward to the future and Brad is a successful architect, happily married and a father to his only son. Out of the blue, after an appearance on national television, Brad is approached by someone claiming to be Petey. With details that only his brother would know, Brad accepts Petey into his life. Then Petey disappears with Brad's wife and son, and after the FBI exhausts all avenues, Brad takes it upon himself to track down Petey. Or is it Peter or a con artist? On his quest, Brad learns more and more about the abductor. Each page kept me so involved in this story that I couldn't put the book down. I finished reading it in one afternoon. I really enjoyed this one.
A great quick read A bit predictable but there were still many surprises and enough ambiguity to keep you guesding. Wjj
This was a dark and depressing story. Morrell seemed to have a personality conflict in this book. He tried to mix in his usual high octane action, but the story, at least on the surface was pretty deep. I have mixed emotions on whether I'd recommend this book to others. On one hand, it is a clever concept with big thrills at the end. On the other, it left me, the reader, with a sad and empty feeling. Make sure to follow this one up quickly with one of his traditionally thrilling titles.
The story does have some twists if you patiently read through two thirds of it. The beginning and the last few chapters are quite exciting, but it's quite boring in the middle part.
Neil Patrick Harris, probably best known for his leading role on TV's 'Doogie Howser, MD,' gives authentic voice to the beleagured narrator and protagonist in David Morrell's latest thriller. Brad Denning, it would seem, has it all - a terrific wife, Kate, a young son, Jason, and a top-of-the-heap career as an architect. Nonetheless, he is haunted. Years ago his younger brother, Petey, was lost. Petey had been 11-years-old, and Brad blames himself for the boy's disappearance. Then from out of nowhere a man presents himself at Brad's Colorado office with an astounding claim - he is Petey, the lost brother. At first it seems too incredible to be true, but then Brad puts aside his disbelief and accepts the man as Petey. A poor decision. Kate, Jason, and the presumed Petey disappear. The police and FBI are stumped. It's up to Brad to find his family and discover why they have disappeared. Is that really Petey? The story is in the hunt.
I have been a FAN of David Morrell since I read 'First Blood'(and I read it years before the movie). However this latest book was a disappointment. The story lacked continuity. It skipped around, instead of just enjoying the story, I had to constantly remember where within the story the characters were. As an example, following the abduction of his family, the next six months of the story are compressed down to 10-20 pages. The main Character's 'mythical' journey to retrace his brother's escape put the book almost in the realm of Fantasy. All in all, if I hadn't paid 25.00 bucks for the book, I wouldn't have bothered to finish it. If Mr Morrell reads this. please answer this question. In the book 'The League Of The Night and Fog' the attack on Saul at the Kibbutz was never really explained. At the end of the book the four main characters return to the Kibbitz to defend it, but against who? and why?
As the older sibling thirteen-year-old Brad Denning knew he was responsible for his kid brother nine-year-old tag along Petey. However, his friends encouraged Brad to send Petey home. So Brad told Petey to leave. The sobbing preadolescent biked away. However, when Brad returned home for supper he learns that Petey did not come home. Frantically their parents called friends and the police, but the skinny little kid never came home. Nearing forty, Brad is married, has a son, and has a successful architect career, but remains guilt stricken by the sobbing of a LONG LOST nine year old. Desperate for closure he appeals on TV for Petey to come home. In Denver, a mangy looking construction worker calls Brad by name insisting he is Petey. Though initially skeptical, Brad begins to believe him because this guy knows insider things about Brad and their parents. Brad takes Petey home, where his wife and son warmly welcome him. While camping, Petey shoves Brad off the edge of a cliff before abducting his sister-in-law and nephew. Brad survives and begins an odyssey to rescue his family from the avenging serpent. LONG LOST is a taut suspense thriller that hooks readers from the very first line until the one sitting tale is finished. Though Petey's revenge seems extreme, especially the events he committed after he left his brother for dead, the suspenseful plot thoroughly retains its grip on the reader. David Morrell has furnished a powerful haunting thriller with a frightening ending that just adds to the depth of a hard to forget novel Harriet Klausner