Summary and book reviews of Oblivion by Peter Abrahams

Oblivion

By Peter Abrahams

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

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Book Summary

What determines your identity? Is it the clothes you wear? The way other people treat you? The stories, anecdotes and experiences you have stored in your memory? When Nick Petrov wakes up in a hospital room, his clothes are two sizes too big. Everyone treats him like a victim. And he can't remember how he got there in the first place.

Nick Petrov is a brilliant private investigator with a reputation for bringing missing children safely home. Launched to tabloid stardom when he apprehended a brutal serial killer named Gerald Reasoner, Petrov has become something of a celebrity. When a woman approaches him, begging him to use his unique gifts to find her missing daughter, Petrov's instincts sound an alarm. He senses that she's concealing something. But is she lying to get Petrov's help or to set him up? Three days later, just as he has amassed all the answers he needs to close the case, they are swept away into oblivion.

Petrov awakes in a hospital bed, his memory of the past two weeks a complete blank, his personality altered. He is tempted to just put the trauma behind him and move on with his life, but there are too many things holding him back. When he returns home, he discovers a photograph full of strangers. In his office is a greeting card with a cryptic message inside, both the receiver and the sender completely unknown. His bank account has been augmented by a $450 check from a woman he can't remember. All of it points to a case he cannot recall.

Digging for answers when he doesn't even know the questions, Petrov begins to fear he is searching for the most elusive quarry he has ever hunted: himself. Uncomfortable truths about his past rise up from this haunting investigation, truths that force him to reinterpret the events of the notorious Reasoner case from years before. But the closer Petrov comes to solving the mystery, the more likely it seems that the monster he's looking for is staring back at him in the mirror.

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 ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

As Joyce Carol Oates so eloquently puts it, "Oblivion immerses us in Petrov's assailed consciousness as he navigates his way through a Dali landscape of baffling clues, memory lapses, and visual hallucinations.."   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (302 words).

Media Reviews
The New York Times

Oblivion is so circuitously plotted that the reader's memory gets as much of a workout as Nick's does.

The New Yorker

Unforgetable...Oblivion is composed in spare yet often poetic prose...a new thriller from an unheralded master of suspense.

The Chicago Tribune - Dick Adler

...Could it be because Abrahams makes it seem so natural and easy that not enough people recognize the effort and the talent at work in his books? His 14th novel, the stunning thriller Oblivion, should--in a perfect world--put an end to that.

Entertainment Weekly - Jennifer Reese

Fantastic Grade A Review! - You know you're holding a first-rate thriller when you take it with you in the car to read at stoplights. Peter Abrahams' marvelous Oblivion tweaks the conventions of the Michael Connelly-style whodunit to create a novel that is at once classically suspenseful and completely fresh.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Abrahams creates palpable empathy for the bruised Nick and his pitch-perfect prose is a joy.

Author Blurb Joyce Carol Oates
Neurological impairment is something we're all too likely to know firsthand, and Peter Abrahams's suspense novel Oblivion makes of this condition something rich and strange: an investigation into "lost time, like some dark forest in a fairy tale."

Reader Reviews
gofish

not very good
I just finished this as an audio book which is probably the only way I was able to get through it. I agree with another reviewer in so far as I also had trouble keeping up with clues and characters including the new, the lost and the found again. A ...   Read More

Philadelphia reader

Hackneyed writing
I expected to enjoy this book, based on the many positive reviews, but it was a huge disappointment. The characters were one-dimensional and trite and the writing was unimaginative. I didn't finish it, despite a noble try.

Melissa

What book?
Not sure if it was me or the book, but I found myself as forgetful as the protagonist and his amnesia! He would run into people, places etc. and not remember them and nor could I!! My mom and other friends have read the book and enjoyed it ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Abraham's first book, The Fury of Rachel Monette, was published in 1980; since then he has published a further 15 adult novels and, last year, his first novel for teens, Down The Rabbit Hole, the first in the Echo Falls Mystery series.  Although all his books fall broadly into the thriller category, to pigeonhole him as simply a writer of thrillers is too simplistic. For a bibliography of his books see BookBrowse.  His latest novel for adults, End of Story, was published in hardcover earlier this month, and the second in his Echo Falls Mystery, Behind The Curtain, series will be published next week.

When asked which authors have most influences him he cites Vladimir Nabokov, Graham Greene and ...

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