The Last Mile – David Baldacci

I devoured this, the second in the Amos Decker series, after finishing the first – Memory Man – and thoroughly enjoying it. (My review is here.) The glory that is Amazon brought this book to my Kindle in a flash, and in a flash I had read it. Yes, it was a hasty purchase, but not one I regret.

OK, here’s the story.

Amos Decker is a former football player and policeman, who has – by dint on an injury on his single play in the NFL – hyperthymesia: he remembers everything. He also has synesthesia (he hears colors), and his personality is somewhat antisocial and distant. But he burns with a desire to do good.

Decker has been recruited to be part of a multi discipline FBI team to look at cold cases. He persuades the team to take on the case of Melvin Mars, a man (once a promising college football player) convicted of murdering his parents and sentenced to death. At the very last minute, Mars is reprieved, and this sets off a deadly chain of events as the original murders are investigated, and the truth slowly surfaces.

Baldacci’s talent is to construct a complicated plot, and unravel it slowly. Each part of the plot – the underlying story – is logical, and consistent. So, the reader starts off from one perspective with imperfect knowledge, and Baldacci takes the reader on a journey to eventually see the whole picture, and a very different perspective.

In some of Baldacci’s novels, I have found the plot beyond belief. Here, there’s one element of the plot that gets close to it, but does not cross the line, so at the end the whole piece does stand up well.

The Decker and Mars characters are done well, but the rest are mostly cardboard props. The setting is OK, but nothing outstanding. Instead, it’s the plot, the pacing, the action, the story-telling, and the wonderful page turning intensity of much of the book that made this such a pleasure. In short, wonderful entertainment.