Gone, but Not Forgotten

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When Martin Darius hires attorney Betsy Tannenbaum and gives her a huge retainer, he tells her that if he is accused of a crime, he will be innocent. Soon thereafter, he is charged with a series of brutal killings involving torture of the victims. Tannenbaum defends Darius but has difficulty believing in her client’s innocence after she discovers that he was pardoned, under a different name, for a similar set of killings ten years earlier.

The novel sets up the characters quickly, often without giving enough information for the reader to know the roles they will play. This, however, is part of the mystery, as the motives and even the identities of some of the players are not clear until the denouement. After describing the present-day scenario, the novel flashes back for an extended description of the murder investigation that took place ten years previously. That investigation pitted Darius, under the name of Peter Lake, against detective Nancy Gordon. Gordon believed that Lake was the serial killer, but he secured a pardon. She vowed to get him, and when new killings under similar circumstances occur ten years later, she notifies the local police. Gordon then disappears, and the police discover that the records of the old case are gone.

Through various plot devices, Margolin shows the reader that either Darius or Gordon is lying about the past. The author presents Darius as a monster but maintains questions concerning his culpability for the current crimes. Margolin, a lawyer, uses details of courtroom and police proceedings to show the difficulty of prosecuting such a sadist. The rapid unfolding of events and clues to characters’ motivations make GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN difficult to put down.