What determines your identity? Is it the clothes you wear? The way other people treat you? The stories, anecdotes and experiences you have stored in your memory? When Nick Petrov wakes up in a hospital room, his clothes are two sizes too big. Everyone treats him like a victim. And he can't remember how he got there in the first place.
What determines your identity? Is it the clothes you wear? The way other people treat you? The stories, anecdotes and experiences you have stored in your memory? When Nick Petrov wakes up in a hospital room, his clothes are two sizes too big. Everyone treats him like a victim. And he can’t remember how he got there in the first place.
Nick Petrov is a brilliant private investigator with a reputation for bringing missing children safely home. Launched to tabloid stardom when he apprehended a brutal serial killer named Gerald Reasoner, Petrov has become something of a celebrity. When a woman approaches him, begging him to use his unique gifts to find her missing daughter, Petrov’s instincts sound an alarm. He senses that she’s concealing something. But is she lying to get Petrov’s help or to set him up? Three days later, just as he has amassed all the answers he needs to close the case, they are swept away into oblivion.
Petrov awakes in a hospital bed, his memory of the past two weeks a complete blank, his personality altered. He is tempted to just put the trauma behind him and move on with his life, but there are too many things holding him back. When he returns home, he discovers a photograph full of strangers. In his office is a greeting card with a cryptic message inside, both the receiver and the sender completely unknown. His bank account has been augmented by a $450 check from a woman he can’t remember. All of it points to a case he cannot recall.
Digging for answers when he doesn’t even know the questions, Petrov begins to fear he is searching for the most elusive quarry he has ever hunted: himself. Uncomfortable truths about his past rise up from this haunting investigation, truths that force him to reinterpret the events of the notorious Reasoner case from years before. But the closer Petrov comes to solving the mystery, the more likely it seems that the monster he’s looking for is staring back at him in the mirror.
Review of Oblivion from the 4-4-05 issue of The New Yorker
UNFORGETTABLE by JOYCE CAROL OATES
“A new thriller from an unheralded master of suspense.”
See full review here.
“You know you’re holding a first-rate thriller when you take it with you in the car to read at stoplights.”
– Entertainment Weekly. Grade: A. (Jennifer Reese)
“Could it be… Abrahams makes it seem so natural and easy that not enough people recognize the effort and talent at work in his books? … stunning.”
– Chicago Tribune (Dick Adler)
“Exciting and out of the ordinary… full of funny, touching and alarming surprises… His funny and stout-hearted dogs (like Buster, who becomes Petrov’s assistant for a few hours) are unmatched by anyone’s, including Dashiel Hammett’s and Robert B. Parker’s… Peter Abrahams is a wonderful writer.”
– L.A. Times (Tom Nolan)
“Back in the day, the best hard-boiled detective fiction provided readers with state-of-the-art prose style as well as cheap thrills. But as decades went by, the style of Chandler and Hammett hardened even further and became a cliche. Recent incarnations of the noir voice (James Ellroy, for one) seem compulsive and symptomatic rather than fluid, like a Touretter mimicking a prizefighter’s moves. Peter Abrahams’ latest crime novel — praised by Joyce Carol Oates in the pages of the New Yorker, no less — points the way out of this hall of mirrors. “Oblivion” is written lean and sleek and undentable as titanium, but the experience it describes is anything but rock solid. … you have to wonder how many pulp-seeking readers will even notice the elegant, low-key artistry of what Abrahams has achieved in the writing. But it’s there, all right, like all clues Nick missed before cancer flipped a switch in his brain. Abrahams has as good a shot as anyone at bringing back detective fiction where the wordplay counts as much as the gunplay.”
– Salon (Laura Miller)
“His pitch-perfect prose is a joy.”
– Kirkus (starred review)