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3.8 5
by Peter Abrahams

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Nick Petrov was a world-famous private investigator -- until a brain trauma destroyed part of his memory and changed who he is forever.

Now a killer is on the loose, looming up from a past that Nick can no longer remember.


Nick Petrov was a world-famous private investigator -- until a brain trauma destroyed part of his memory and changed who he is forever.

Now a killer is on the loose, looming up from a past that Nick can no longer remember.

Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
Nick is propelled through the latter part of Oblivion by the imagined voice of his father. If he can stick with the case, that voice tells him, he can stay alive. He is also strongly attracted to Billie, his nurse, in ways that invigorate the book without trivializing its fundamental darkness. Adroitly rather than morbidly, Mr. Abrahams fuses the mortality of his hero with that of the crime victims he has known.
— The New York Times
Library Journal
When crack P.I. Nick Petrov comes to in the hospital with certain gaps in his memory, he hunts for what's missing-with scary results. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After losing his memory, high-profile investigator Nick Petrov returns recklessly to the dangerous case he was working on. Pricey p.i. Nick (his claim to fame is a TV movie in which he was portrayed by Armand Assante) accepts the small case of missing teenager Amanda Rummel because something touches him in the demeanor of Amanda's distraught mother, Liza. But from the beginning of his investigation, he finds that Liza, who works for Candyland Escorts, is less than candid with him. For starters, Amanda's friend Beth says that Amanda claimed to be adopted, her real mother mysteriously killed. This facet of the case resonates with Nick, who's divorced and has a shaky relationship with son Dmitri. Ex-wife Katherine is still bitter about the breakup and Nick's affair with police chief Elaine Kostelnik (Kim Delaney in the TV movie). Bad headaches, unlike anything Nick has ever experienced, periodically interfere with his work, but he methodically searches Liza's house while she's away and makes copious lists of his conclusions and theories. He learns that Liza had an older sister who died years earlier, and his guess is that she was Amanda's biological mother. He finds the girl but blacks out in the middle of explaining his identity and mission. He wakes up in a hospital with no memory and a diagnosis of brain hemorrhage. After getting his bearings, he realizes that the fastest way (maybe the only way) to get his memory back is to retrace the steps of his aborted investigation. Abraham draws extra tension from dicey scenes that put the reader two steps ahead of the oblivious Nick. There's also an offbeat romance with his African-American nurse, Billie (he's drawn to the clacking of her beadedbraids), as Nick's splintered probe runs through a large cast of unpredictable characters, including a chain-smoking madam, volatile p.i., and skittish volleyball coach. Abrahams (Their Wildest Dreams, 2003, etc.) creates palpable empathy for the bruised Nick, and his pitch-perfect prose is a joy.
Entertainment Weekly
“Marvelous...classically suspenseful and completely fresh. Grade: A.”
The New Yorker
“Unforgetable...OBLIVION is composed in spare yet often poetic prose...a new thriller from an unheralded master of suspense.”
Joseph Finder
“A spare, ironic, and pulse-pounding tale that I couldn’t stop reading.”
Michael Palmer
“[D]ynamite... there is no one writing today who does it any better. A+.”

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Read an Excerpt

A Novel

Chapter One

Nick Petrov, in the witness box, waited for the next question. The lawyer for the accused looked up from his yellow pad and fastened his skeptical gaze -- familiar to millions of cable talk show viewers -- on Petrov's face. The lawyer had eyebrows like Einstein's, resembled him in general, Petrov thought, but with a better haircut. Perfume from the previous witness still hung in the air.

"Been quite the career," said the lawyer, "hasn't it, Mr. Petrov? So far."

A better haircut and a meaner disposition. "That's not for me to say," Petrov said. He'd been on the stand for twenty-eight minutes, long enough to have formed the opinion that there was only one juror to worry about -- the middle-aged woman in the back row, a lapis butterfly brooch on her lapel. The eleven other faces said guilty in the first degree, at least to him; but her face, soft, pretty, unadorned, had mercy written all over it. The defendant, Ty Canning, polishing his glasses on the end of his tie, had shown none.

"But it's what you think," said the lawyer. "That you're the sharpest tool in the shed."

"Is that a question?" Petrov said.

"Most definitely," said the lawyer.

"Do I have to answer it, Your Honor?"

"The witness will answer the question," said the judge.

"I'm more like a leaf blower," Petrov said.

Some people laughed; but not the butterfly woman.

"You think this is funny?" said the lawyer. Petrov remained silent, and the lawyer, perhaps slightly off-stride, didn't demand an answer. He flipped through the yellow pad in an irritated way. Petrov, habitual noticer of little things, saw that his eyes weren't moving, meaning he wasn't actually reading. Was this a dramatic pause or had he lost the thread? "Your Honor," the lawyer said, "I'd like the jury to hear that last question and answer again." He'd lost the thread; the self-confident but inferior younger brother who'd never arrived to disturb the Einstein family dynamic. Petrov waited for an opening.

"Question," said the court reporter. "What did the defendant say on the ride back from Mexico? Answer: He said, 'You got me.' "

" 'You got me,' " said the lawyer, facing the jury. "Sounds definitive. Practically an admission of guilt." He spun around to Petrov. "But in your deposition of June eleven, you stated the defendant's words were 'What makes you think it was me?' Not an admission of guilt, more like the aggrieved response of an innocent man." He paused. "Now, remembering that you are under oath, which one of your answers should the jury believe?" Petrov felt the butterfly woman's gaze on his face, knew that phrase -- the aggrieved response of an innocent man -- touched something deep inside her. The jurors, wide awake now, leaned forward in anticipation. "Both," Petrov said.

"Both?" Those eyebrows, lively and articulate, rose in disbelief. "Are you aware of what would happen to your license if you put yourself in the position of giving false testimony?"

"I am aware," Petrov said. He met the lawyer's gaze. "In the deposition, I was asked only what the defendant's first words were -- 'What makes you think it was me?' It was after I explained the leads I'd followed that he made the second remark -- 'You got me.' There was also a third remark, just before I turned him over."

Silence. The lawyer understood, the judge understood, everyone with the slightest knowledge of cross-examination tactics understood that you never asked a question without knowing the answer. But a trial had dramatic form, and that form now demanded the question be asked.

The lawyer licked his lips. "Third remark?"

"The defendant also said, 'I enjoyed every minute of it.' "

Before the lawyer could respond, Ty Canning, a rich young man whose manner had been impeccable throughout the trial, shouted, "The fuck I did," and pounded his fist on the table. A vein throbbed in his neck and his face swelled and reddened, the effect phallic, out of control, dangerous: one of those electric courtroom moments that happened mostly in stories. The butterfly woman recoiled. The judge banged her gavel. The marshals moved in.

There were no further questions. Petrov stepped down. One of the marshals gave him a discreet pat on the back on the way out.

The Santa Ana was blowing, hot and dry. Petrov loved the heat, possibly some reaction to his birthplace, even though he'd left Russia at the age of two and had no memories of it. But crossing the parking lot outside the county courthouse, Petrov found himself thinking of a cooling swim. Friday afternoon, a few minutes after three. He'd been planning to spend the weekend at the lake -- why not leave now, arrive in daylight, maybe do a little fishing too? He had the car door open when a woman called, "Mr. Petrov?"

She was hurrying across the lot: midthirties, judging by her face, although her body looked ten years younger and her clothes—halter top and midthigh skirt -- belonged on a teenager. Her eyes were the anxious eyes of a prospective client.

"My name's Liza," she said. She came to a stop, rocking back slightly on her high heels. "Lisa, really, but Liza professionally. Liza Rummel. It's about Amanda."

"Who's she?"

Liza Rummel shook her head, a quick side-to-side, erasing and starting over. "I saw on Court TV you'd be testifying today. That's why I came down here."

"From where?"

"From where? Van Nuys. We've been living in Encino but now we're in Van Nuys. Amanda liked the old place much better, come to think of it -- I wonder if that's a factor."

"In what?"

"Amanda's disappearance, Mr. Petrov, the reason I'm here. That's your specialty, right? Missing children?"

A Novel
. Copyright © by Peter Abrahams. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Peter Abrahams is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five books, including the Edgar Award-winning Reality Check, Bullet Point, and the Echo Falls series for middle graders. Writing as Spencer Quinn, he is also the author of the Chet and Bernie series—Dog on It, Thereby Hangs a Tail, and To Fetch a Thief. He and his wife live in Massachusetts with their dog, Audrey.

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Oblivion 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This review is really late, but someone has to tell the other side. As a fan of Peter Abrahams 'The Tutor, Last of the Dixie Heroes', I was looking forward to this book, especially after all the glowing reviews. While the last two books were not mysteries, per se, Abrahams did a great job at creating a suspenseful mood with intricate plot and character developments in a very original way. Unfortunately, 'Oblivion' was very disappointing, especially since it was touted as a mystery. The book is about a private eye who gets hired for a missing person case. He starts working on the case, but then loses his memory because of a brain tumor. Once he gets out of the hospital, we then watch the PI retrace all of his steps from the first few chapters, albeit much more slowly due to his new impairments. The author telegraphs the identity of the bad guy(s) to the reader very early, and the only 'mystery' in this book is waiting for the PI to figure it out, even though the author hits him with the clues multiple times. Sorry, but I don't recommend this one. It's really amazing to see how many reviewers claim they loved it, so you might like it, too.
LisaDunckley 9 months ago
Nick Petrov has a talent for finding missing children. His special skills, and most of all his desire to save kids, have led him to get wrapped up in a case where nothing is as it seems. Everyone is lying to him and just when he figures out the answers, he wakes up in the hospital with oblivion where his memories of the last two weeks should be. He could just let it go, and get on with his life. But what did he discover that was so important? Who are the people in this picture he has at his home? Why is there a check in his bank account from someone he can't recall? Oblivion is definitely a thriller, with lots of twists and turns along the way. I was not able to predict ANY of the twists, and definitely couldn't figure out who the “bad guy” was until the very end!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Peter Abrahams takes us into a great "what if." Most of us can imagine disability and wonder how we'd handle it. Add to that living through questions about what went before, and mindless violence bringing more questions than answers, and know you've been inside Nick Petrov. Outstanding!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a ride! I bought Oblivion today and could not put it down. It tweaks the detective genre to create something totally original. The book is great fun and I strongly recommend it.