This was the first Faye Kellerman novel that I’ve read, and my reasons for starting off the 2019 CBR challenge with it were two-fold: 1) I love a good mystery/ detective fiction novel; and 2) this was on my bookshelf one of my 2019 goals is to read through the books I already own. Unfortunately, this novel never quite gelled for me. It wasn’t horrible- I was invested enough to finish and find out ‘who done it’- but I also won’t be seeking out any more Kellerman novels going forward. My main criticisms were four-fold:
- Lack of connection to its setting: My favorite detective novels are those that that provide a connection and insight into the cities where they’re set- think Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh, Michael Connelly’s Los Angeles or Jo Nesbo’s Oslo. Kellerman tried but didn’t quite deliver on this. Although she makes references to different locations within Los Angeles, the city as she describes it never quite feels like a real place;
- Lengthy dead-end storylines: The beginning of this novel focuses on a vandalism at a Jewish synagogue, and there is a lot of time spent not just on the crime, but the community clean up of the synagogue. So.much.time is spent talking about the clean up. It reminded me of listening to someone complain about a task for longer than it would take to actually do the task. Just clean up the synagogue and get on with it! Even more frustrating is that this tedious section is a b-plot that could have been cut out entirely;
- Unnecessarily aggressive language/detail: although I am a big fan of the hard-boiled mysteries and all the blue language and R-rated subject matter that comes with it, I want that seedier side to dovetail with the overall plot and character development. Kellerman employs a bunch of cussing and violent subject matter but it largely shows up in the side plots and irrelevant details- scenes with the main character’s stepson, the dead-end initial vandalism plot, etc.- where it comes across as jarring and unnecessary.
- Uncompelling characters: although I realize that The Forgotten is a later book in a series, and there may be some earlier novels that create a connection with the characters, The Forgotten doesn’t do a good job of getting the reader invested in its characters. Decker, the protagonist, was a standard ‘no nonsense’ detective- not a lot of characterization besides the classic cop ‘workaholic personality’. Decker’s Jewish wife, Rina, had little characterization beyond her religion, and because she featured the most in the book’s tedious ‘synagogue clean up’ section, I also found her character tedious. On the bad guy end, all of the villains were essentially one-note psychopaths, and their motivations for evil-doing didn’t extend much beyond this characterization.
Overall: The Forgotten wasn’t a read to remember.