"Brad Denning's brother Petey is long lost. Frozen in time as a skinny nine-year-old bicycling away from his uncaring older brother, Petey haunts Brad's consciousness. To this day, within his prosperous life, Brad knows with certainty that he was responsible for the boy's disappearance. He knows how much his mother and father suffered and that nothing can ever bring Petey back - until a stranger walks into Brad's life." "Suddenly Brad is confronted by a man who claims to be his brother and is telling a tale of wandering, pain, and survival. As Brad gradually puts aside his suspicions, his alleged brother makes himself at home in Brad's life. Then everything is shattered. Petey is gone again. Only this time, he's taken Brad's wife and child with him." Now Brad must struggle with a harrowing mystery. Was the man who knew all the intimate details of their childhood truly his brother or a vicious con man? Where has he taken Brad's family - and why? As the days stretch into weeks, the baffled police and the FBI are forced to end their search. Brad's only recourse is to put himself into the mind of the man who claimed to be his brother and hunt him down himself.
Like Robert Ludlum, Morrell began his bestselling career with short, tough action yarns (First Blood; Testament), then moved into very long, very complex conspiracy thrillers (The Brotherhood of the Rose). This modestly exciting thriller is a return to his old laconic style, but what's missing is the original plotting that has marked so much of Morrell's fiction. The novel does boast a first-rate setup: narrator Brad Denning is on top of the world, with a great career as an architect, a wonderful wife, Kate, and son, Jason, 11 never mind the trauma that scarred his youth, when his 11-year-old younger brother, Petey, was kidnapped, never to be found. Now a "rough-looking" man shows up outside Brad's Denver office, claiming to be the long-lost Petey. Brad takes Petey, who's apparently become a hard-knock drifter, into his home. Days later, Petey pushes Brad off a cliff, leaving him for dead. Battered Brad claws his way home to find Petey gone, along with the presumably kidnapped Kate and Jason. The remainder of the novel details Brad's cross-country attempt to track them down. Morrell tosses in a major complication when it appears that Petey may not be Petey after all, but few readers will be surprised by the novel's conclusion. Along the way, there are several strong action sequences, particularly one in which Brad gets trapped in a dark, snake-infested cellar, but Morrell has written this sort of pitch-black action scene before. The novel is slick, but there's little in it that's unexpected.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Grand Central Publishing
May 07, 2002
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