With the newly published LOST, we can add yet another memorable character to James Patterson's oeuvre. The book introduces Miami police detective Tom Moon to crime fiction, and an auspicious introduction it is indeed, beginning with his backstory and continuing through a plot that is very much set in the real world.
Moon, who seems to be modeled (at least partly) after co-author James O. Born --- more on that in a minute --- has been "keeping it local," to the extent of having been born in Miami and attending college there on a football scholarship. It is the latter experience that caused him to have the nickname "Anti" hung on him, which has stayed with him as he worked his way up from a Miami beat cop to a position as the head of Operation Guardian, an FBI task force dealing with international crime.
Born, a bestselling author and an Emmy Award-winning screenwriter, brings his day-job experience as an officer with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (as well as his lifelong south Florida residency) to the proceedings, with the result being that one's immediate reaction to reading LOST is "When can we get more"
Moon is a big, personable guy who is a walking, talking version of Bartlett's Familiar (and occasionally obscure) Quotations. Despite being fully into adulthood, he lives with his mother and younger sister, and the reasons for that arrangement are made clear as readers make their way through the book. It might be more accurate to say that they live with him. LOST deals almost entirely with the ins and outs of human trafficking, a heinous crime that is both closely local and widely international in scale. Surprisingly enough, roughly the first half of the novel takes place in Amsterdam, as the result of Moon and his task force in Miami intercepting some human cargo in the form of a group of children.
Moon breaks protocol and bends a law or two by personally taking the victims back to Amsterdam in order to make sure that each and all are reunited with family. While doing so, he is introduced to Marie Meijer, who could be described as his European counterpart. An organized crime family has effectively made Miami and Amsterdam sister cities in the worst sort of ways. The family in question consists of Roman and Emile Rostoff, Russian brothers who have built a vast and reprehensible crime syndicate throughout Europe with a beachhead in Miami.
Moon returns to Miami more determined than ever to bust up the American side of the operation. When a trafficker comes there with her brother for the purpose of using her human cargo to pay off an outstanding debt to the Rostoffs, Marie is not far behind. She and Moon slowly and tantalizingly gravitate toward each other professionally and personally, even as matters around them become more dangerous as the story races to a conclusion that is explosive in all of the best ways.
LOST is one of the most outstanding inaugural volumes to a potential series that I have read in quite a while. Moon and Marie are terrific lead characters with enough secondary plots surrounding each of them to play out over the course of at least a few more books. Miami and Amsterdam also provide terrific settings for future novels, with Patterson and Born's familiarity with the former providing plenty of fodder for scenery in the front screen and the side view mirrors. I hope that both authors find the time for more stories involving these same characters.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub