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Lost    by Michael Robotham order for
by Michael Robotham
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2006 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Professor Joe O'Loughlin (a skilled and tenacious psychologist who suffers from Parkinson's), introduced by Michael Robotham in his previous thriller, Suspect, has a strong supporting role in Lost, which stars the London homicide Detective Inspector, Vincent Ruiz, who investigated last time round. The duo have since become friends, a good thing as Ruiz, 'a cynic and a pessimist' who nevertheless inspires loyalty, needs all the help he can get.

An amnesiac Ruiz is found holding desperately to a buoy in the Thames, bleeding out from a bullet wound in his leg. He dies on the way to hospital and is resuscitated. A hit man almost finishes him off during his recovery. His superior questions the unauthorized activities that led to his dunking in the river, and Internal Affairs are on his case for missing diamonds. There is also a question of whether he shot anyone, as the boat he was on is found covered in blood, not all of it his. With Joe's help and a steady does of morphine for the pain, Ruiz attempts to recover his memories. They slowly and steadily reconstruct his past - not only recent events, but the childhood death of his half-brother and guilt over his own birth as the son of a Gypsy girl raped by German soldiers during World War II, both of which fueled his drive to rescue children.

They learn that Ruiz re-opened a cold case, that of seven-year-old Mickey Carlyle who disappeared from her apartment building three years before. Though Ruiz sent a pedophile to jail for murder, no body was found and the DI feels in his gut that Mickey is still alive. Mickey's mother has now disappeared, and the girl's Russian mobster father, Aleksei Kuznet, adds his own threats to the pressure already on Ruiz. Still badly injured, eventually suspended and even accused of a crime, Ruiz keeps his focus on finding Mickey. He pulls in his friend Joe and also protective Constable Alisha 'Ali' Kaur Barba, who worked for him on the original case. The search takes Ruiz into the world of tunnels and sewers below London, where a helper tells him, 'You don't want to be down there when it rains. It's like God himself pulled the chain.'

There are wheels within wheels in this gripping, convoluted, violent tale of seeking for what's lost - from memories to childhood innocence and a small, frightened girl. It takes dedication and a degree of persistence that amounts to, and is often taken for, obsession. Don't miss Lost - it's an extraordinary read.

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