Amos Decker series
In his novel Memory Man, David Baldacci created one of the most original detectives in fiction. Due to an accident, Amos Decker cannot forget anything. He can take part in a situation, or read something and can call up the incident anytime with a total remembrance of every detail involved.
In The Last Mile, Decker joins an FBI special task force with the mission of looking into older cases, bringing up the facts and finding additional evidence in order to solve the case. On joining the task force, Decker arrives with an interest in looking at a situation involving Melvin Mars, a convict on death row with his execution pending shortly. Amos is struck by the similarity between Mars’ case and his own personal experience. Both have had their families murdered and both have had someone come forward years after the crimes and confess to the killings.
Another commonality is that both Mars and Decker were talented football players in their youth with both having their careers cut short by the tragedies befalling them. In the case of Melvin Mars, he was charged with and convicted of the murders of his parents and sentenced to death.
Decker and his group pick up the case when another death row inmate comes forward and confesses to the Mars’ family killings. The confession has the potential to get Melvin out of prison and return him to society. Cementing Decker’s belief that there is a lot more than first appears is the disappearance and probable kidnapping of one of the members of his team.
Baldacci’s portrait of Amos Decker is striking in itself. Decker comes into the task force about 100 pounds overweight. One of the other members, who might appear as a love interest in future books, talks Amos into going on a strict diet and his agonies in following it will be familiar to all of us that have gone on one. The medical causes for Decker’s extraordinary memory have been researched and explained for the reader’s information about the man.
There are stops and starts in going forward on the case, and insight into the intricate world of playing football. Descriptions of the characters involved, especially those of Decker and Mars, make them into very real people going through a traumatic situation.
The twists and turns provide a rollercoaster ride for the reader, making this one of the better whodunnits in a long time. Extremely well done novel and providing definite interest in looking for the next book in this series.
5/16 Paul Lane
THE LAST MILE by David Baldacci. Grand Central Publishing (April 19, 2016). ISBN 978-1455586455. 432p.