Excerpt from Oblivion by Peter Abrahams, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Oblivion

By Peter Abrahams

Oblivion
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Apr 2005,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2006,
    384 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chapter One
Lost Weekend

Nick Petrov, in the witness box, waited for the next question. The lawyer for the accused looked up from his yellow pad and fastened his skeptical gaze -- familiar to millions of cable talk show viewers -- on Petrov's face. The lawyer had eyebrows like Einstein's, resembled him in general, Petrov thought, but with a better haircut. Perfume from the previous witness still hung in the air.

"Been quite the career," said the lawyer, "hasn't it, Mr. Petrov? So far."

A better haircut and a meaner disposition. "That's not for me to say," Petrov said. He'd been on the stand for twenty-eight minutes, long enough to have formed the opinion that there was only one juror to worry about -- the middle-aged woman in the back row, a lapis butterfly brooch on her lapel. The eleven other faces said guilty in the first degree, at least to him; but her face, soft, pretty, unadorned, had mercy written all over it. The defendant, Ty Canning, polishing his glasses on the end of his tie, had shown none.

"But it's what you think," said the lawyer. "That you're the sharpest tool in the shed."

"Is that a question?" Petrov said.

"Most definitely," said the lawyer.

"Do I have to answer it, Your Honor?"

"The witness will answer the question," said the judge.

"I'm more like a leaf blower," Petrov said.

Some people laughed; but not the butterfly woman.

"You think this is funny?" said the lawyer. Petrov remained silent, and the lawyer, perhaps slightly off-stride, didn't demand an answer. He flipped through the yellow pad in an irritated way. Petrov, habitual noticer of little things, saw that his eyes weren't moving, meaning he wasn't actually reading. Was this a dramatic pause or had he lost the thread? "Your Honor," the lawyer said, "I'd like the jury to hear that last question and answer again." He'd lost the thread; the self-confident but inferior younger brother who'd never arrived to disturb the Einstein family dynamic.

Petrov waited for an opening.

"Question," said the court reporter. "What did the defendant say on the ride back from Mexico? Answer: He said, 'You got me.' "

" 'You got me,' " said the lawyer, facing the jury. "Sounds definitive. Practically an admission of guilt." He spun around to Petrov. "But in your deposition of June eleven, you stated the defendant's words were 'What makes you think it was me?' Not an admission of guilt, more like the aggrieved response of an innocent man." He paused. "Now, remembering that you are under oath, which one of your answers should the jury believe?" Petrov felt the butterfly woman's gaze on his face, knew that phrase -- the aggrieved response of an innocent man -- touched something deep inside her. The jurors, wide awake now, leaned forward in anticipation. "Both," Petrov said.

"Both?" Those eyebrows, lively and articulate, rose in disbelief. "Are you aware of what would happen to your license if you put yourself in the position of giving false testimony?"

"I am aware," Petrov said. He met the lawyer's gaze. "In the deposition, I was asked only what the defendant's first words were -- 'What makes you think it was me?' It was after I explained the leads I'd followed that he made the second remark -- 'You got me.' There was also a third remark, just before I turned him over."

Silence. The lawyer understood, the judge understood, everyone with the slightest knowledge of cross-examination tactics understood that you never asked a question without knowing the answer. But a trial had dramatic form, and that form now demanded the question be asked.

The foregoing is excerpted from Oblivion by Peter Abrahams. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  131Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.