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. In the first few chapters, Nick Petrov comes on like the stereotypical world-weary L.A. private eye with a broken marriage and a tough/tender heart. The Santa Ana winds are blowing when a provocatively dressed woman hires him to track down her missing teenage daughter. He quickly finds the drugged girl and is escorting her to the hospital when suddenly Abrahams explodes the plot. To describe the details would spoil the pleasure. In short: Petrov loses his memory, loses the girl, and for the delicious remainder of this strangely lovely book tries to find her again, piecing together a bizarre and macabre mystery using faculties (like intuition and empathy) that weren't previously in his repertoire. In short, punchy chapters, Abrahams strips away the brittle veneer of this stock character to reveal a confused new Petrov, off-kilter, sweet, and slow. His reflections are funny and often a little stupid, even as the twisty, ingenious horror story turns out to be anything but.