A man comes home from work, and his wife is missing. On their bed is a rose, dyed black, and a note that says, “Gone, But Not Forgotten.” She’s the third woman to disappear in this manner, and the Portland police still have no idea where they are. The crime scenes are clean. No bodies have been found. There are no real clues or leads… until one evening a woman, claiming to be a detective from Hunter’s Point, New York, shows up at the home of Portland’s DA with an incredible story.
This is the third of Margolin’s stand alone books that I’ve read. My first introduction to his writing was through the fantastic Amanda Jaffe series. Margolin has a knack for writing addictive crime thrillers that keep me turning the pages even during the courtroom scenes, which I frequently find dull in the hands of less talented authors. Margolin was a criminal attorney, so those parts of his story always ring true, and I love the way that he is unafraid to discuss the moral complexity of defending criminals.
My main consistent frustration with Margolin’s books is the way that he starts them: by introducing about 57 people in the first 20 pages, with no particularly indications as to which characters are going to be important in the future. Like yes, a few of them are obvious, but some not so much. Here are the people we meet, by name, in the first couple of pages of Gone, But Not Forgotten (in order of appearance):
- Alfred Neff, judge
- Betsy Tannenbaum, attorney
- Walter Korn, retired welder and jury spokesperson
- Andrea Hammermill, defendant
- Randy Highsmith, prosecutor
- Martin Darius, jerk
- Russ Miller, regular dude
- Vicky Miller, wife of Russ
- Frank Valcroft, Russ’s boss
- Stuart Webb, account executive at Russ’s job
Those people are all in chapter one, fifteen pages. Chapter two is still introducing people/threads. It’s super fun to see all these apparently not-connected individuals and see how their lives start to come together, but it is also a confusing information dump, and I almost always end up getting a scrap of paper and writing notes, because if Margolin mentions Russ Miller on page 128, he doesn’t do a particularly good job reminding you who he is.
But once I get through the initial introductions, and people start to slot into place, Margolin’s books always pick up the pace and drag me along, and this one was no different. This is one of those crafty novels where you get a lot of the information, so it’s more of a how than a who… sort of.
This book was more violent than some of Margolin’s others that I have read. The main bad guy was a genuine creepy psychopath, and this really wasn’t the best book to stay up until midnight finishing, because then I just laid there with mind going in circles and also feeling completely creeped out by this guy. On the other hand, I literally couldn’t just go to bed and stayed up late finishing this one, so even though in many ways this was only a 3.5* read for me, I bumped it up to a 4* in the end because it was so addictive.
While Gone, But Not Forgotten wasn’t my favorite Margolin book, and it’s not where I would start if you’re new to his writing, it was still an intense, engaging thriller that had me completely engrossed. I’m still working my way through Margolin’s backlog, and so far he hasn’t disappointed me.