Dan Schwent 's Reviews > The Last Good Man

The Last Good Man by A.J. Kazinski
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Nov 29, 11

bookshelves: freebies-for-reviewing, crime-and-mystery, 2011
Read from November 03 to 28, 2011

According to the Talmud, thirty-six righteous people exist on earth and if they all die, so does humanity. Now, people are dying all over the world with strange marks on their backs and it's up to a Danish policeman named Niels Bentzon to find out why. There have been thirty-four deaths already. Can Niels save the last two good men and save the world?

First off, I received this ARC from Scribner in exchange for reviewing it. This did not influence my opinion in the least. To be honest, The Last Good Man didn't have a whole lot going for it when I read the back cover blurb comparing it to The DaVinci Code and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a book I'll never read and one I'm skeptical of because of all the hype. Still, free is free, and I begrudgingly gave it a read. Despite my initial misgivings, I wound up liking The Last Good Man quite a bit.

The main characters are an interesting bunch. Niels Bentzon, the protagonist, is a hostage negotiator who's manic depressive, can't bring himself to shoot anyone, and is manic depressive. He's a far cry from the macho hero I was dreading in this outing. The female lead, Hannah Lund, is also atypical. She's a divorced astrophysicist with a dead son and difficulty relating to anyone who isn't a genius. Interested yet?

Here's something else to pique your curiosity. This book has so many twists that it could be called The Last Good Man and his One Hundred Red Herrings. Some of the twists are predictable, many are not. One thing that I loved was that Kazinski avoided a lot of the thriller cliches that I hate.

For a thriller, it's surprisingly deep. The nature of good and evil are explored, as well as the existence of God. I liked that the plot was rooted in Jewish texts. The way Hannah figured out how to predict where the final two victims would be was pretty cool. Also, loved the ending. Not what I expected at all when I first picked up the book.

That's about all I can say without blowing any surprises. The Last Good Man is a good thriller and good entertainment for a rainy evening.

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Reading Progress

11/13/2011 page 6
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Brandon (new)

Brandon That plot sounds really interesting. Also, you should totally read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.


message 2: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Brandon wrote: "That plot sounds really interesting. Also, you should totally read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

It's on my list. The plot for The Last Good Man was way better than I expected.


message 3: by Gulla (new)

Gulla I also liked this book. Mostly you don't remember crime fiction but this ons stood out.


message 4: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent This one is more memorable than most thrillers because it avoids genre cliches like the male and female lead hooking up and the confrontation with a mustache-twirling villain at the end.


message 5: by rivka (new)

rivka *wince*

Why is it that the notion of the lamed vav keeps getting turned into apocalyptic thriller-mysteries? Talk about missing the point.


message 6: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent rivka wrote: "*wince*

Why is it that the notion of the lamed vav keeps getting turned into apocalyptic thriller-mysteries? Talk about missing the point."


It's a very interesting concept. Do you have any recommendation for fiction using it?


message 7: by rivka (last edited Dec 01, 2011 12:35PM) (new)

rivka It appears to primarily be interesting when they are viewed as pawns or saviors, though. Which is not what the legend is about at all. It's about each person seeing themselves as (at least potentially) pivotal to world, rather than one of a billion interchangeable cogs. What's especially annoying about the "picking them off one at a time" books is that if the legend is actually taken literally, we need ALL THIRTY-SIX for the world to continue. Killing off one and not having them replaced would be sufficient. But wouldn't make for nearly as exciting a thriller. ;P

But there are probably some good collections of Chassidic tales that include interesting lamedvavnik stories. I'll see what I can find.


message 8: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent rivka wrote: "It appears to primarily be interesting when they are viewed as pawns or saviors, though. Which is not what the legend is about at all. It's about each person seeing themselves as (at least potentia..."

Cool. Thanks!


message 9: by rivka (new)

rivka I have not read it, but it looks like the third volume of these memoirs has at least one such story. Unfortunately, unlike the first couple volumes, the third seems to not be available on the Kindle or any other cheap/easy edition. Nor has it been reprinted as the first two were. Could check libraries. (And there may well be other stories about lamedvavniks in the first couple volumes.)

This rabbi's Yom Kippur sermon from 2002 also has some illustrative stories about the concept.

And it has been years since I last read the collection, but I think S.Y. Zevin's Treasury of Chassidic Tales probably has a few that touch on the topic.


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