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Avg. Rating: 3.69
Great suspense novel
David Morrell has built his career around suspense novels. His earlier novels often had adventurous sorts (ex-assassins, soldiers, et cetera) battling ... conspiracies. His more recent works have dealt with more human adventures, sometimes with more success than others (I personally find Double Image one of his weakest efforts).
In Long Lost, Brad Denning is a successful architect who is traumatized by the unsolved kidnaping of his brother twenty-five years earlier. After being featured on national TV, he encounters a man who claims to be his brother. While this brother appears to be genuine, knowing things only Brad's brother could know, the experienced reader will know that something bad is afoot.
And something bad does happen. The brother tries to [end the life of] Brad and kidnaps his wife and son. The FBI assists and tells Brad that the culprit was someone impersonating his brother, but are no good at finding Brad's family. It is up to Brad to figure out if the kidnaper is his brother or not and more importantly to rescue his family.
This is a pure suspense novel, a great page turner. Morrell isn't interested in any great insights into human nature, just entertaining, and he succeeds well. A week from reading this, you'll have forgotten the characters names and the settings will begin to fade, but you'll still remember the most important thing: that you had a blast while reading this book.
Good but not great - 3 1/2 stars
With Long Lost, David Morrell presents a suspenseful, yet profoundly disturbing story of regret and revenge. Brad Denning has grown up with the haunting guilt that he is responsible for the disappearance of his younger brother when they were both kids. After years of tortuous thoughts about what his life and the lives of his family members would have been like if he could have a "do over" on that fateful day, his brother unexpectedly comes into his life. A happy reunion quickly turns sour and Brad finds himself in a life and death struggle. As he searches for his wife and son, he slowly comes to fully understand the path of destruction set in motion after his brother disappeared. It is story of a simple twist of fate with very negative consequences. Although choppy in places and with a subject matter that is clearly not for the squeamish, Morrell effectively uses the first person narrative to tell the story from Brad Dennings' perspective. The frequent twists, turns and action sequences make Long Lost a very quick read. All things considered, Long Lost is good but not great.
The best Morrell novel that I've read so far
I have hardback (First Edition) copies of "Desperate Measures", "Extreme Denial", "Double Image" and "Burnt Sienna" (and, a couple weeks ago, I borrowed "Assumed Identity" from the Public Library), so when I found copies of "Long Lost" (2002) in the "bargain books" section of Barnes and Noble three weeks ago, I bought a copy without hesitation. I was anticipating reading this novel as soon as I bought it--but in the meantime I had checked out two novels from the Library--and received the chance to read "Long Lost" Sunday night (June 13, 04). I began about 7:30 p.m. and finished about five and a half hours later, at about 1 a.m. "Long Lost" had me hooked from the first two sentences. The book read very quickly and had a ton of action, the quality of which was near horror. "Long Lost" is, I feel, David Morrell's best book, better than the five previous novels I read.
"Long Lost" is the first book that Morrell wrote in first-person POV, which worked pretty well for the storyline. In general, the seemingly "good" guy is actually the antagonist (Petey Denning/Lester Dant), who disrupts the life of the protagonist (the first-person narrator, Bradley Denning).
Petey is kidnapped at the age of nine--his thirteen-year-old brother, Brad, turned him away when Petey wanted to participate in a baseball game with the old kids, so he pedals his bike home but never makes it there--and lived a horribly tortured life with a crazed, cult-ish "God-fearing, Bible-knowing" family, the Dants, who changed his name to Lester--they had kidnapped Petey to "replace" their son who had died--until he escaped being imprisioned when he was sixteen. For about twenty-five years, he was a derelict, a drifter, whose life had no real purpose other than to cause trouble for people and mooch off them; until one summer day when he encounters his older brother, Brad. Brad can't believe that he found his brother and takes him immediately into his home; Brad feels terrible and guilty and responsible for what happened to his brother. Petey/Lester becomes jealous of Brad's successful life--his wife, Kate, his son, Jason and his home. Because Brad had told him to "Get Lost", Petey never had a good life; Lester (Petey) decides to get retribution against Brad, so Lester kidnaps Kate and Jason. For over a year, Lester gives Brad's wife and son the life that Petey had endured. Six months after they disappeared, the FBI gave up the case, but Brad took it upon himself to continue the investigation and find his family, presuming that Kate and Jason were still alive. The FBI agent (Grady) tried to convice Brad that Lester and Petey were not the same man, but Brad's instincts were correct. Brad risks his life to get his family back, the wife and son that Petey wanted and had successfully brainwashed by torture as his own. The ending is happy; Petey gets what he deserves for having messed up Brad's life. Nevertheless, the crazy Dant couple--who perished when they couldn't get out of their house when Lester set fire to their home and then got away, after about seven years of nightmarish isolation--messed up Petey's life and caused him to be half-crazy, so Petey/Lester simply wanted life to be fair to him.
As hard as the novel was to put down (I read it in one sitting), the story it contains is even harder to forget. I guess the moral of the story is about revenge and fairness; how a person's good life can suddenly turn bad and how a person's bad life can end up even worse in an attempt to make life good.
All in all, "Long Lost" is a great book. I rate it 4 stars, though, because I feel the story could've been a little richer had the novel been a little longer (say about 400-500 pages, instead of 303 pages). I look forward to reading Morrell's earlier novels, of which there are several.
"Lost Long" confirms the fact that, now, David Morrell is my favorite author (having easily surpassed John Grisham and, to an extent, Stephen King). "Long Lost" is a must-read!
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