One of the highlights of my recent vacation to St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands—besides the beautiful weather and eating/drinking excursions—was reading David Baldacci’s 2012 novel The Forgotten (arriving in paperback March 26). Despite the author’s constant presence on the bestseller list, the only previous book I’d read of his was Deliver Us from Evil, which I liked a lot.
My girlfriend remarked about The Forgotten’s Emerald Coast setting—specifically, a fictional town called Paradise located somewhere between Destin and Panama City Beach—before tuning me out so she could finish the thing. This is the second novel to feature combat veteran and military investigator extraordinaire John Puller, a character that gives Lee Child’s Jack Reacher some serious competition.
The Forgotten’s story—involving Puller’s investigation into his aunt’s death and a human trafficking ring—really is one of those you can breeze through in an afternoon. The subject matter is troubling and compelling, but what intrigued me most was the author’s history with this area and what inspired him to set the novel here. There are references to Destin, and Eglin Air Force Base figures in at one point.
“I’ve been to Florida many times,” Baldacci says. “I have friends who moved to the Emerald Coast, and I remember going there years ago. But I got the idea for The Forgotten a while ago when I was flying over the Gulf and saw the oil platforms. I started doing some research and decided that that part of Florida made the most sense for the story’s location.”
After devouring The Forgotten, I stumbled across Zero Day, the first Puller novel, at a St. Thomas drug store and tore through it pretty quick, too. I’m interested in where the series will take Puller next.
“Puller will be back, but I’m not exactly sure where or when,” says Baldacci. “I’m currently working on a novel for the fall featuring Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, another set of recurring characters (last seen in The Sixth Man). Sean and Michelle are also the basis for a new TNT weekly drama that will premiere in June.”
I think Puller has cinematic potential, too. Let’s just hope they don’t cast Tom Cruise.
Baldacci’s next novel, The Hit, marks the return of The Innocent’s assassin for hire Will Robie and arrives in April. Amazon Kindle owners can download the first eight chapters FREE starting March 25. The author recently penned the sixth and final installment in The 39 Clues young readers’ series, Day of Doom.
For more information about Baldacci’s books and philanthropic efforts—notably the Wish You Well Foundation, whose purpose is combating illiteracy in America—visit www.davidbaldacci.com.