The Forgotten

Special Agent John Puller is the man the U.S. Army calls on to investigate the toughest crimes facing the nation.

He’s the best at what he does.

Now Puller must summon his considerable pedigree for what could be his toughest case ever—because this time, it’s personal.

His aunt has been found dead in Paradise, Florida—a picturesque town on the Gulf Coast that draws wealthy tourists and retirees.

Local police have ruled his aunt’s death an accident. But just before she died, she mailed a letter to Puller’s father, saying that her little town doesn’t exactly deserve its moniker.

And what Puller observes and discovers convinces him that his aunt’s death was indeed no accident—and in fact that the palm trees and sandy beaches of “Paradise” could be concealing a conspiracy so jarring that some at the center of it will take unimaginable steps to make certain that the truth never comes to light.

Here’s Baldacci discussing The Forgotten in a TV interview:

Check out this excerpt that gets to the heart of the emotion entangled in Puller’s newest case:

Puller gazed down at the long figure on the marble slab. A sheet covered everything except her head. Puller was alone in the room; Brown was waiting just outside to give him some privacy. His aunt’s features were obviously very pale, but they were very easily recognizable. He had had no doubt that she was actually dead, but at least now he had confirmation of it.

Her hair had been tidied up and it lay flat against her head. Puller reached out and touched several of the white strands. They felt bristly, harsh. He took his hand back. He had seen many bodies in various states of decay, many far worse than his aunt’s condition. But she had been family. He had sat on this woman’s knee, listened to her stories, eaten her cooking. She had helped him learn the alphabet, come to love books, let him play in her house, make noise at all hours. But she also had instilled in him discipline, purpose, and loyalty.

His old man had earned three stars, but his older sister could very well have done the same, Puller thought, if she’d been given the chance.

He estimated her height. About five-nine. She had seemed like a giant to him when he was a boy. Age had probably shrunken her as it had her brother. But she was still tall for a woman, as her brother was for a man. He had not seen her in a long time. He had not really regretted that in adulthood, as there were many more things to occupy his time. Like fighting wars. And finding killers.

But now he did regret it, losing that connection with a woman who had meant so much to him growing up. And now it was too late to do anything about it.

This Brown University thriller writers’ panel features Baldacci (far right; check out his first comments at the 17-minute mark) along with another fave of TheBlaze Books, Nelson DeMille: