Thursday, December 15, 2011

FORGOTTEN by Mariah Stewart

Publisher: Ballantine
Date published: 2008
ISBN 9780345506115
Romantic Suspense
Mass Market Paperback
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained by Publisher

Sent home for an assignment in the FBI’s counter terrorism unit Portia Cahill is less than thrilled to be back stateside. While she acknowledges she blew her cover herself, she would rather be anywhere than where she is. Grudgingly she takes on an assignment from her boss, John Mancini, the case that almost cost him his sanity. Years before Sheldon Woods kidnapped, raped and murdered a series of young boys. Instead of the death penalty, in exchange for the locations of the boys’ graves, Sheldon got life. Now, a mother whose son was never found is dying and she has asked John to go to Sheldon one more time and find her son. John knows that Sheldon would only play with him once again so he sends Portia.

When Portia arrives at the prison Sheldon tells her he will give her what she wants – for a price. The price includes the appearance of the attorney who cut him the life term deal. Despite her basic feelings about defence attorneys Portia develops a grudging respect for Sheldon’s attorney, James Cannon. That respect slowly but surely turns into an attraction she cannot walk away from anymore than she can the lost boy they find at the site of Sheldon’s crime.

Mariah Stewart’s FORGOTTEN is an interesting mix of psychological thriller, romantic suspense and a contemporary family driven story. Long time readers finally have a glimpse into the man who nearly drove John Mancini over the edge. And readers have gotten to know Miranda Cahill, Portia’s twin over several stories. Sheldon is the stuff of every parent’s nightmare. He is one sick puppy and he knows it and revels in it. There are glimmers of what drives him and at the end I did have a modicum of understanding for him but my disgust at his actions shifted, appropriately to their source. Ms. Stewart doesn’t merely take her readers to the edge with the type of criminal that can only be called an animal. She takes you into his world and what drove him. As James says, death would be too easy for Sheldon.

FORGOTTEN is different from Ms. Stewart’s books on several levels. There are the main threads and then the underlying story behind them. All is not what it seems, not in a mysterious way, but is a more symbolic way as well. The island where Portia and James take their investigation is depicted as a beautiful east coast retreat with only a solitary B&B and a ferry that runs 3 times a day. The setting is idyllic, but someone there has a terrible history. Portia arrived back in the states alone and determined to be alone – an island. But bit by bit she allowed her sister and James into her life; the island is bridged to the mainland by those ferries. Like the answer to the crime she is determined to solve, it lies in plain sight, but you have to travel to get there. Like a daisy wheel when one layer is peeled back, another appears. The reader has the choice of merely reading and enjoying a well told story or delving into the deeper, underlying layers woven by Ms. Stewart.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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