Convicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution--for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier--when he's granted an unexpected reprieve. Another man has confessed to the crime.
Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars's case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy. Both men's families were brutally murdered. And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime. A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth.
The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars--guilty or not--a free man. Who wants Mars out of prison? And why now?
But when a member of Decker's team disappears, it becomes clear that something much larger--and more sinister--than just one convicted criminal's life hangs in the balance. Decker will need all of his extraordinary brainpower to stop an innocent man from being executed.
David Baldacci has been writing since childhood, when his mother gave him a lined notebook in which to write down his stories. (Much later, when David thanked her for being the spark that ignited his writing career, she revealed that she’d given him the notebook to keep him quiet, "because every mom needs a break now and then.”)
David published his first novel, Absolute Power, in 1996; the feature film adaptation followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 46 novels for adults; all have been national and international bestsellers, and several have been adapted for film and television. His books are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with 150 million copies sold worldwide. David has also published seven novels for younger readers.
In addition to being a prolific writer, David is a devoted philanthropist, and his greatest efforts are dedicated to his family’s Wish You Well Foundation®. Established by David and his wife, Michelle, the Wish You Well Foundation supports family and adult literacy programs in the United States.
A lifelong Virginian, David is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia School of Law.
I am new to this author having only read a rather weak Christmas story by him prior to reading Memory Man and now, The Last Mile. If these two books are any indication of the rest of his stuff then I have a lot of reading enjoyment ahead of me. Amos Decker is a brilliant character, a man with a perfect memory, imperfect social skills and no tact and yet is still very likable. I enjoyed his team mates too especially as they seem to understand him and let him be who he is. The book is immensely readable and the pages turn themselves. Occasionally I felt we did not really need to know exactly how every new character was dressed, whether his shirt was blue or green, button down or open neck etc. A very small issue though because the author's writing is like a very pleasant ramble on a fine day - you just keep on going and enjoying every moment. I hope Baldacci keeps on going too and that there are many more books in this series. I think there are a lot more stories left in Amos Decker.
For the life of me I don't understand the 5 stars for this book I have read more than half of Baldacci's books and each time I'm reading one I wonder why I bother. I do like the quirky protagonist in this series, Amos Decker, but that is about it. The plot is completely unbelievable and the characters might as well be wearing black or white hats to signify good or evil. The book was at least 1/3 too long filled with repetition, plot twists that were so implausible as to be laughable, cardboard characters and mind numbing details about what they had to eat. I just don't see what others see in this author's work.
The Last Mile's plot is rehashed, and many familiar ideas and objects are about this book right from the start. Baldacci being Baldacci, i.e the author whose thrillers have wowed me more often than not, takes these familiar things and gives them his own personal spin.
Melvin Mars' case is rooted in violence in the South. He himself is a tragic figure. He could have made it to the NFL, but instead has been on death row for a case that has become a cold case. That's where Amos Decker steps in.
I am used to the twists that abound in this book, and it was more satisfying than dizzying in keeping track of them. The average thriller can come in many shapes. But characterization is a tricky beast. Either too many characters whose names you can't remember, or too flat to care about, can be quite the anathema. Baldacci's balancing act made me give this book 4 stars. And they are well earned.
3.5 stars ✡ I remember reading this book 4 years back....and my 14 year old heart was like OMG OMG OMG OMG HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN!!! but when I reread it again few months back I realised even this book have some issues!! what I liked? • Amos decker:- brilliant character with perfect memory,imperfect social skills and no tact yet I love him❤. He uses his hyperthymesia and synesthesia to solve the cases !!!
• Page turner:- every chapter ends in an amazing cliffhanger which complete you to read it ....I guess that's the characteristic of true page turner.
• intensity background
Despite being an absolute page turner this books have some issues:-
• mind rambling details • cardboard side characters • repeating plots and twists • sprinkled with too many implausible scenarios
I recommend this book to Baldacci fans and who loves Amos decker but first read Memory Man (Amos decker #1)
In this second book in the 'Memory Man' series, newly hired FBI consultant Amos Decker helps free a man from Death Row. The book can be read as a standalone.
Background: Amos Decker, 6'5" tall and over 300 pounds, was a professional football player until a massive hit ended his career and left him with hyperthymesia and synesthesia. The hyperthymesia gives Decker a permanent detailed memory of everything he's ever seen or experienced - like a combination photo album/video in his head. And the synesthesia makes Decker see things in false colors - like death scenes glowing blue. Unfortunately, Decker's hyperthymesia doesn't allow him to dim the memories of his dead wife and child, who were murdered a few years ago.
On the upside, Decker's phenomenal memory helps him in his career as a detective, and he now works for the FBI. Decker's FBI partner is Alexandra (Alex) Jamison, a woman who understands his problems and has his back.
The story: Amos Decker and his partner Alex Jamison have been hired to work with an FBI team that aims to free prisoners who were wrongly convicted. The team, led by Special Agent Ross Bogart, consists of Decker, Jamison, a psychologist named Lisa Davenport, and a pushy agent called Todd Mulligan.
The squad is trying to decide between two cases, one sponsored by Mulligan and one sponsored by Decker. After Decker decimates Mulligan's case using his superb memory and observational skills, the squad takes up Decker's case of an African-American man named Melvin Mars, who's on Death Row in Texas.
Twenty years ago, Melvin Mars was a college football star headed for the NFL and a lucrative contract. Melvin's plans were shattered when he was convicted of killing his mother and father and sent to Death Row. Melvin languished on Death Row for decades, losing appeal after appeal.
Mars was just hours away from execution when a man named Charles Montgomery suddenly confessed that HE killed Mars' parents. Montgomery is also on Death Row, in the state of Alabama, and he's scheduled to get the electric chair in a few days.
Interviews with Montgomery establish that he knows all the details about the murder of Mars' parents, even those not made public. So the Texas courts accept that Montgomery is guilty and Mars is innocent. Melvin is released from prison and Decker - who also lost his family to violence - takes the former prisoner under his wing.
Still, something about Montgomery's confession strikes Decker as not kosher, and - feeling compelled to uncover the truth - Decker pushes his squad to investigate further. This leads to more murder, a kidnapping, threats against the FBI team, attempts on Amos and Alex's life, and all manner of trouble. Part of the trouble has it's roots in racism, since some people are furious that African-American Melvin is now a free man.
In any case it's pretty clear that people out there want the case dropped, and the reasons why are corkers.
The story is VERY convoluted and has elements that are not credible. For example, I don't believe a car can be rigged to break down in front of a specific building that's an hour away from where you started. (I mean, really?) And after someone breaks into your hotel room and threatens your life, wouldn't you start putting a chair under the doorknob or something? There's more iffy stuff, but to say more would be a spoiler.
On the upside, Alex's prodding gets Decker - who's out of shape and overweight - to take an interest in his health. So Decker starts going to the gym and eats what Alex puts into his fridge - even quinoa and salad.
And it's funny when Melvin Mars, who's in superb shape, asks Decker if he wants to work out with him and Decker responds, "I'd be dead in five minutes." LOL
I enjoyed the book because I like the characters, and the overall mystery is interesting, but it's not the best entry in the series. (I've read the books out of order.) Still, the book is worth reading for Decker fans.
It's for sure no one will ever accuse me of being a compliant little wifey-poo. Still, more often than not when I've got my nose in my Kindle and my husband pops up with, "Honey, do we have more of yesterday's chocolate pudding?" my response is something like, "Let me finish this chapter and I'll go check."
But when my nose is in a book like this one, my mouth sings a different tune: "I can't see in the fridge from my chair, babe. If you find some, how about bringing me a bowl while you're up?"
Oh, yeah - this book is that good.
Actually, it's the second in the author's new series that debuted last year featuring Amos Decker, whose promising NFL football career was derailed by a serious head injury during his first game for the Cleveland Browns ("my" team, BTW). As a result, he not only is able to remember every single detail of every single minute of every single day (a rare condition called hyperthymesia), but he associates many of them with vivid colors (an even more rare synesthia). That first book, Memory Man, was quite good, but this one jumped to the top of my enjoyment meter from the get-go. For the record, it stands on its own just fine, but I suggest starting at the beginning (as I do with any series).
Football, in fact, that is the reason Decker, just picked to be on an FBI special task force, wants to take on a particular case. Melvin Mars, who's been in prison for 20 years after being convicted of murdering his parents, is set to be executed in a few hours. At the eleventh hour, another death-row prisoner confesses to the killing, and Mars gets a reprieve from walking "the last mile" to the chamber. Mars once beat the shoulder pads off of Decker when the latter was playing for The Ohio State University Buckeyes (go Bucks!) Not only that, but Decker's own family was murdered, and years after that, a suspect confessed. The similarities are impossible for Decker to overlook (well, let's be honest - given his condition, it's impossible for Decker to overlook much of anything), and he convinces the reluctant head of the FBI team to take on Mars's case.
The stakes for getting to the truth are high; in one outcome, an innocent man could be executed. In another, a murderer could be set free. The trail begins, of course, with attempts to learn whether the prisoner's last-ditch confession is true and why he waited so long to make it. That's not an easy task since he's dead (choosing to go out, for some inexplicable reason, via the electric chair rather than the now-standard lethal injection). But guided by Decker's unfailing recollections and ability to not only find puzzle pieces but pull them together, team members uncover clues and follow where they lead. When one teamster suddenly disappears - presumed to have been kidnapped - things really start to heat up.
There's no shortage of action and twists (and I'm patting myself on the back for figuring out one of the biggest ones). But the big attraction for me, without question, is Decker himself. I seriously doubt I'd like him much if I met him in person - for openers, his conditions have left him rather devoid of emotions - but watching [reading] how his mind works is absolutely fascinating to me. If I'm forced to say something on the negative side, I'll admit the plot (and outcome) smack a little bit of coming up with an ending and making the details fit after the fact. But hey: As stand-up accordion-toting comedian Judy Tenuta is fond of saying, "It could happen!"
All I know is it sure worked for me. Kudos (and more, please)!
Amos Decker is on his way to Washington, D. C. to join an FBI special task force headed by Ross Bogart. They'll be investigating cold and questionable cases. When he hears a news report about a former college football star who was on death row for murdering his parents and just escaped execution when someone suddenly confessed to the crime, it's no surprise that Decker wants this to be the first project of the task force.
I loved this story from the start as every scene was compelling, interesting and provided something new to ponder. It went from being fairly uncomplicated to becoming a thing with so many tentacles that it tangled my brain in a good way. Decker's mind continues to be fascinating and the team dynamics suited his style perfectly.
I also enjoyed the narration, which transitions between the two narrators every time there is a gender change during dialogue. Aside from helping with character distinction, it also livens up the performance. I'm committed to the audio format for this series.
Literally, I couldn't stop listening to this book (even put my headphones on in the middle of the night). This is great storytelling with a very intriguing character in Decker at the forefront. It also has a strong supporting cast and I especially liked the man of focus in the investigation, Melvin Mars, who I couldn't help but root for throughout. Loved everything about this reading experience.
(I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)
What happens when the wrong person is on death row?
Amos Decker, David Baldacci’s latest creation in a very long list of successful protagonists, has been given an interesting, if somewhat less than credible and mildly over the top back story. A serious brain injury in his first and only game in the NFL has left him morbidly obese and “suffering” from synesthesia and an infallible eidetic memory, more technically termed as hyperthymesia. He has been asked to join a team of unofficial FBI agents commissioned to “solve” hand-picked cold cases.
The case of interest in THE LAST MILE is the actual identity of the murderer of Melvin Mars’ parents, when Mars is released mere minutes before his execution as a necessary result of the confession of another man who is himself, already on death row. But the confessed murderer, who is believed by virtue of his knowledge of details of the long past murder withheld by the police, has now been silenced forever by his subsequent execution for a different murder.
Baldacci’s story, despite its being totally linear in the telling and almost entirely devoid of red herrings or any blind alleys, twists and turns is still compelling, gripping and evocative. For my money, that approach was a most pleasant change from the twisted, Byzantine plots that plague so many of today’s modern suspense thrillers. THE LAST MILE is also an eloquent statement against the use of capital punishment (sentiments which certainly line up with my own ideas) and a critique of the violence, hatred and racism that seems so sadly prevalent in American society.
Highly recommended. Up next in the series, THE FIX.
I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you Hachette Book group for the free copy of The Last Mile. I enjoyed this book so much. I couldn't put it down. It had a lot of twists and turns,when I thought I had it figured out it would go a different way than the way I expected. I like when there's a lot of twist and turns and its not easy to figure out. I like that it continued where the last book left off. I love that Amos found a reason to live and to start taking better care of himself and that he found a purpose to help other people and to put the bad guys in prison and to get punished for there crimes. I just love Amos Decker and like the descriptions that David Baldacci gives of how Amos brain works after the injury he received from his first and last NFL game. Its interesting how he see colors and how he interacts with people. I think it so sad that Amos will never forget the details of finding his wife, his daughter and his brother in law dead when he got home from and how he can never forget it because of his brain injury he received. I also love the new character Melvin Mars. I enjoyed Amos and Melvin's relationship throughout the book. I love at the end of the book when Melvin told Amos that he was the best friend he ever and how Amos reacted to Melvin telling him that. That Amos said that Melvin telling him that he was his best friend topped his first and Last NFL game. I hope in the next book in the Amos Decker series that Melvin Mars shows up in it. I can't wait to read the next Amos Decker series.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I struggled to settle on a rating for this book. On the one hand, I really like the character, Amos Decker. On the other hand, there were so many places that the characters were one dimensional and like something pulled from a bag of 'standard interchangeable actors' that the book lost some of its impact. I enjoyed the mystery and the idea of this convoluted cold case. However, I found the book to be a bit long winded and sprinkled with one too many implausible scenarios.
This is the 2nd book in the excellent Amos Decker series by author David Baldacci. Having already read the 1st book 'Memory man' recently the characters were already clear to me so I was quickly into this one, but I should point out this book works as a stand alone. This is a fascinating series that features as the main character Amos Decker, a troubled soul who has a neurological condition called hyperthymesia which makes it impossible for him to forget anything. To make matters worse Amos Decker's memories exist of returning home to discover his wife, daughter and brother in law savagely murdered. Now a police detective he is constantly haunted by the deaths of his family and unable to forget the smallest detail. The plot for this book features prisoner Melvin Mars, who is awaiting the death penalty following his conviction of murdering his mother and father. On the day of his execution, moments before meeting his death he is told the a prisoner on death row has confessed to murdering Mars parents. If his claims can be confirmed then Mars life will be saved. Amos Decker now works on cold cases and recognising the similarities between Mars and his own life decides to look into the case.
I really enjoyed this novel and the author is steadily building up the character Amos Decker into an excellent fictional detective. David Baldacci books are never short, this one being 644 pages but the it is so well written and paced that the time just disappears.
I am loving this series! When I first got my hands on this book, I decided to take a look at it which is quite normal for me. I usually thumb through a new book taking note of the number of pages, font size and other basic attributes. My eyes landed on the first page of this book and I didn't come up fro air until I had read 100 pages. I hadn't planned to read this book quite yet but I simply couldn't put it down.
Both the story and characters in this book were wonderfully done. Amos Decker is a very interesting character. He remembers everything...literally. At first, this sounds like it would be a fantastic trait to have but when you start to thing about it, there are things that are best forgotten. This book also featured Melvin Mars, a man on death row for the murder of his parents. While Melvin has always claimed his innocence, he starts being taken seriously when another made confesses to the crime.
Amos feels compelled to find the truth regarding the crimes that have kept Melvin in jail for the past 20 years. Things get complicated as they trace the past to try to find the truth. Melvin works with the team to try to get to the truth since he has been released from jail. At times, things become very dangerous as they get closer to the answers that they are looking for.
The way this story was laid out really kept me guessing. I was never quite sure exactly how everything would come together but I had faith that Amos would find the right piece of evidence to solve the case. The twists and turns in this book really kept me guessing and the book ended up in areas that I would have never dreamed.
I would highly recommend this books to mystery fans. Amos Decker is a unique detective and love what his special abilities add to the story. This is the second book in the series but could be read a stand alone with little difficultly. I can't wait to see what case Amos will be asked to solve next!
I received a review copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing for the purpose of providing an honest review.
Initial Thoughts When I first got my hands on this book, I decided to "look" at it....and didn't put it down for 100 pages. Great story with interesting characters make this a great read.
Even better then the first!! I love me some Amos!! So excited that this is a series.. Really well written with awesome people. Can’t say much about the specific case because I don’t want to give anything away.. But its refreshing to have a good guy everyone (mostly) respects. I like the underdog as much as anyone but it’s just a nice change to not have to spend time fighting “the system” every step of the way. The twists & turns the case take are thrilling, & most importantly (to me) it feels authentic, no red herrings or fluff here. Looking forward to seeing what’s next..! ** Stopped back to mention that I do NOT recommend the audio version of this book. For some reason, even though the book is only a couple years old, the audio sounded very old. I don’t like the way they inserted the different voices, & the narration overall was just distracting. Great book, but definitely should be read not heard! (Hoping it was just this 1 as I don’t remember the 1st being annoying..)
This was interesting from the start! A man about to be executed and another person confesses leaving one hell of a journey. I could not have guessed how this was going to go until about 85% through. It was so entertaining. I am hoping Melvin joins Amos and his team full time because I found him and Amos very compatible. I am so glad I got around to starting this series because these two books so far have been beyond amusing to read. I will be checking out more of his books and series very soon.
My quick and simple overall: highly entertaining and full of mystery!
Returning to the Amos Decker series, Baldacci offers readers another look into the fantastic abilities of his protagonist while handling a case that is riddled with issues. Melvin Mars sits on death row, awaiting execution for murdering his parents. As he prepares to walk 'the last mile', that distance from his cell to the execution chamber, a stay is granted. It appears as though someone in Alabama has confessed to the crime, leaving doubt that Mars may have committed the crime. This news hits the airwaves and Amos Decker seeks to take up the case. Working with a newly-established task force as part of the FBI, Decker discusses the similarities to the crime he was previously charged with, able to win over a majority of the team. As they head to Texas to investigate, Decker uses his unusual mental capabilities to unravel some of the facts missed by authorities. After the execution of said criminal in Alabama (who had been on death row himself for other crimes), everything seems to fall into place. However, an explosion kills a woman Decker has been interviewing about the case, forcing the team to wonder if there is more to the case than meets the eye. Mars recounts stories about how his parents sought to remain out of the limelight under any circumstances, which begs questions of witness protection or a life in hiding. Decker pushes deeper and soon learns that there may be something questionable about the murders of Mars' parents, where identities do not match official records. As the previously cut and dry case unravels, Decker, Mars, and the rest of the task force are pushed into the middle of a massive cover-up that spans decades. While escaping death in Texas before, Mars may still be executed by a vindictive group set on burying the past and its ghosts. Another great thriller that keeps the reader wondering until the very end!
Baldacci has successfully been juggling a few series, keeping his readers from getting bored. The Amos Decker series could prove to be very interesting, as the 'powers' offer cases a new edge and keeps the reader from sensing anything too repetitive. Baldacci introduces the idea of the FBI task force, which could also inject a collection of new characters on which the stories can build and this can only bode well, as long as Baldacci does not let any of them wither on the vine. The story flows nicely and does touch on recurrent themes when the South plays a role in the setting and plot lines. Baldacci works with what he has and builds a wonderful story on it, keeping the reader guessing for at least part of the novel. Add to that, significant dialogue and the story pushes forward with ease, while also allowing some banter to develop his handful of characters. I look forward to seeing what else Baldacci has in store for Decker and if he will ever do some crossover work with his other protagonists, which can always make for some entertaining possibilities.
Kudos, Mr. Baldacci for this piece of fiction that entertains as well as educates. Keep up the great work and your readers will return for more.
Look...David Baldacci is a good writer and I plan to read the next Amos Decker book.
So why you may ask do I only rate the book 3 stars. "Well" (he said leaning back and sipping from his Jack and Coke) Mr. Baldacci continually spits in my face...
I'm going to repeat something I say a lot. I support a writer's right to include their political point of view in their novels. I support freedom of speech, this (and these) are his work. That said he or she needs to be aware that their opinion can be very...subjective.
Mr. Baldacci seems to think that in the south it's still 1961 rather than 2021. In almost every case here southern characters (here I must say caucasian southern characters) are not only racist, they are caricatures of the stereotypical southern racist. At one point our protagonist and the subordinate 2nd protagonist (who is black or African American) are accosted in a diner by 4 young men who use the epithet "boy". The evil prison guards also call Melvin (Mars) by the same offensive name. It goes on and on. The prison in Texas is pictured as something like Andersonville from the Civil War (or States War if you prefer) as I said... it goes on and on.
I live in Nashville, now admittedly it's not Texas but I have been there and believe me racism is as frowned on here and there as it is in New York or Washington. As a matter of fact though it may be hard for my left wing friends to comprehend here in "fly-over country" we have flush toilets, electric lights and everything. And the vast majority of us are not nearly so worried about the color of a person's skin as the lefties think we must be.
Okay rant over, Mr. Baldacci is a good writer and tells a good story. he just can't keep his left wing point of view out of his writing I suppose. Just be aware going in that if you're from the South, especially Texas you're going to get insulted, a bit.
As for the story, good one. The synopsis on the book is accurate and Mr. Baldacci does (as I've already said) tell a good story. So with bruises on my psyche I can (with certain reservations and this caveat) recommend it as a novel...
Another excellent thriller by Baldacci. Amos Decker is driving to Quantico to join an FBI team as an outsider with his extraordinary abilities when he hears about a stay of execution for Melvin Mars, an ex-football player like himself, convicted of the murder of his parents. Another death row inmate has confessed, with details known only to the killer. Amos manages to convince his team to take on this case, which takes him down south to deal with powerful enemies, racism, and age-old secrets best left alone. Amos identifies with Mars because both played football (Mars ran over Decker repeatedly when they played in college) and both lost their families; however, Amos has to be convinced of Mars' innocence. Lots of twists and turns, with Amos using his prodigious memory and intuition. 4.5 stars.
My weakness for thrillers made me say yes to this book when I was asked if I wanted to read and review the book. Now I'm very glad I did. I haven't read Memory Man, the first book in the series, but that didn't stop me from truly enjoying this book. I do however plan to read the first book some day.
The Last Mile starts off with Melvin Mars in prison very soon to be executed for the murder of his parents, but in the last minute, another man steps forward claiming he's the one behind the murder. Amos Decker takes an interest in the case because there are similarities between his case and Mars. This all happened in the first book so all I know is that his family was killed and I bet Decker was accused of the murder. The big question is, what really happened 20 years ago when Mars parents were killed? Why would someone confess to the crime in the last minute? Decker wants to take on this case despite the fact that there isn't really a case to take since Mars is going free. Decker is simply want to know the truth.
I found the book really compelling because the story took so many interesting turns that I never expected. I came to like the characters Mars, and Decker very much, and the story was truly intriguing. Especially when one started to finally understand what was really going on. At first, there was a lot of questions regarding the case (that wasn't a case but more a mission for Decker), and there were moments I feared for Mars life, especially since it wasn't even sure he would not be thrown in jail again. The book was thrilling and fascinating to read. I loved not knowing what was going on and just getting a piece of the puzzle now and then and the best part is when the whole picture started to take form and you read how Decker and the rest slowly getting to the truth. A truly remarkable good book! And, I love the last chapter, and especially the very last part of it!
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!
Amos Decker is back and ready to join the FBI special task force and solve some cold cases. As soon as Amos hears about the Melvin Mars case - which is eerily similar to his family's murder and Mars played college football too - he can't help but get focused on finding out the truth. Melvin Mars has been in prison for twenty years convicted of murdering his parents. Just days away from parole another man on death row confesses to killing Roy and Lucinda Mars. When Decker and the rest of the team look into the new confession they think Mars is not guilty but neither is the new confession accurate. As Mars joins them when he is pardoned they start to unravel the truth behind his mom and dad's murder...but it soon becomes apparent that there are people who want to keep the truth hidden.
When Memory Man ended I was excited to read the next book, especially knowing that the FBI was involved! And, boy does this book not disappoint. I listened to this one on audio and enjoyed both narrators and loved the story. Decker is an unique hero - he doesn't look or sound like many of the main male characters in suspense novels. I cannot say much about the plot but I highly recommend this book to suspense lovers.
***I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.***
I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book and was looking forward to it as David Baldacci is one of my favorite authors. This book picks up pretty much where Memory Man left off. While it may not be necessary to read this first it may help introduce Amos Decker and his situation.
Melvin Mars is counting down the hours before his execution. Twenty years ago he was convicted in the violent killing of his parents. With only hours to spare before the execution someone else confesses. Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, hears the story and is struck by the similarities in their stories. Both of them were talented football players with promising careers cut short. Both men's families were brutally murdered. And in each case another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime.
Did the man who confessed to killing Melvin's parents actually commit the crime? It seems as though someone wants Melvin freed. Why? Why after twenty years? Amos's FBI task force take on the case. And in so doing they discover that there is more to the story than just the murder of Melvin Mars parents. Who were they? Why were they murdered? There are a lot of secrets and skeletons in the closet that some people would prefer stay that way. At any cost.
This was a real page turner. One of those books where I kept telling myself that I would read just one more chapter and when I read that chapter I had to read one more because the author left you in suspense. Amos Decker is a terrific character. He has certain gifts but with these he has flaws too. If you enjoyed Memory Man I think you will enjoy this second outing.
After a decade long break from thriller writer, David Baldacci, my reunion with Memory Man was a rewarding experience despite all the usual provisos, caveats and ludicrously implausible scenarios. The good news is that Baldacci's latest uniquely talented former cop, Amos Decker, is once again leading the way, only this time he is less personally involved with the eventual fallout, thus making for more clarity of focus. Memory Man introduced the former college football player and one time cop Decker and told how a blindside hit altered his mind, leaving him with a perfect memory (hyperthymesia) and the phenomenon of synthesia, which in his case results in associating different colours with certain situations. The chances of such a medical miracle are the stuff of scientific studies and the mental advantages and improved processing power of Decker has been offset by a corresponding decrease in his social skills. In his first outing Decker set to work as a private investigator fixated on solving the brutal murder of his wife, Cassie, daughter, Molly and brother-in-law, Johnny. Along the way he hooked up with his former detective colleagues and aided the FBI in nailing a sadistic killer. His inability to relate to people and his awkwardness made him a character to vie for, with a big heart and pleasantly devoid of ulterior motives. The Last Mile sees Baldacci take things a step further with Decker becoming part of an unusual FBI task force based at Quantico which combines the myriad talents of FBI personnel and civilians with specialists skills ( Decker and journalist Alex Jamison). Headed up by Special Agent Ross Bogart, the remit is to reopen and hopefully solve cold cases and ahead of their first meet Decker's mixed feelings about his new career reflect his own difficulties adjusting to the loss of his family and moving on with his life.
The Last Mile sees Decker go on something of a crusade into hijacking the permitted list of cold cases which Special Agent Bogart presents to the team for reopening. For Decker, a news broadcast detailing the last gasp reprieve of a former NFL college star and death row inmate, Melvin Mars, takes him back to his own sorry history. A dead cert to make his mark in the first draft of the NFL, Melvin Mars was twenty-two and on the brink of stardom only to be awoken one morning to the news of the brutal double murder of his parents, Roy and Lucinda Mars. Subsequently convicted of their murder and awaiting lethal injection, the last minute confession of Charles Montgomery in Alabama, a man who Mars has never heard of, sees him suddenly off death row and eventually pardoned. Given Montgomery's death row status, his confession appears baffling and presents a host of questions that astound Melvin and in turn Decker and his new team. It seems that someone wants Mars free after twenty-years inside and still bitter from the loss of his shot at the big league as a NFL professional it adds to his confusion of emotions. But who would do such a thing and why have they allowed Mars to lose twenty-years of his life? Decker can see similarities with his own personal situation and knowing that there is no bigger loss than that of your family he is impelled to take on Melvin's battle. Opting to not simply focus on the inconsistencies of the timeline which saw Mars convicted, Decker effectively re-investigates what could have caused Melvin's parents to be gunned down and their home then set on fire. Extracting memories from Melvin's past and some patient analysis sees Decker pull together the first threads in making sense of the mystery. When the rest of the task force gets cold feet and are recalled to HQ, Decker's refusal to give up forges a bond with Mars.
I found The Last Mile a meaty read, less riddled with the layers of unlikely intricacies which I felt bogged down Memory Man into the finish. This follow-up is more straightforward, logically makes more sense and is thus wholeheartedly more believable. As it becomes clearer than ever that the task force are not welcome in rehashing old wounds, it seems that the death of Roy and Lucinda Mars holds a significance that somebody out there is prepared to kill to keep firmly buried. In Decker, Baldacci has moulded a character pleasantly free of political affiliations and with an emphasis on using his brain over brawn wherever he can. Admittedly Decker follows a fairly coherent route and this investigation would not be out of the ballpark for any solid detective or FBI agent, although it just might take them a hell of a lot longer and rack up a sizeable body count along the way!
I tend to adhere to the school of thought that with high octane thrillers, you only get out what you are prepared to put in, and any depth of analysis taints the whole experience. For those who are prepared to lap up the plot, accept the cringeworthy situations and smile through the schmaltzy moments, The Last Mile is an engrossing tale from start to finish and introduces another compelling character in Melvin Mars, who certainly brings more to the party than the not so gifted journalist Alex Jamison. In truth, Decker is a one man show and given time could puzzle out most mysteries, but his interactions with Melvin give rise to his more emotional side. Ditch journalist Alex, keep Melvin Mars and let us await a third encounter with the intriguing memory man, Decker. In all honesty, the supporting cast and task force members are very interchangeable to my mind and contribute little to the process of investigation but I shall we ready and waiting for Decker to return!
Deftly plotted for the most part, and the central character is engaging, but the author just isn't a very good writer, and it shows, especially in stilted dialogue and implausible actions. This kind of book is good for a light read, and I did finish it to see what happened, but the clumsy writing earns the novel only two stars.
I liked the first half of this book a lot. I was hooked with the way the story was unfolding. But I'm still torn between 3 and 4 stars on this one. This is the second book in the Amos Decker series by David Baldacci. It isn't my favorite series, but there is still plenty of things to like about it.
I liked this book better than the first one in this series. Amos, as an MC, was portrayed as more 'normal' than in the last one. This one had him working with other people who were actually capable of adding to the fact finding and not merely as tools to make Amos look good (although, there was still some of that). His memory/brain injury was also handled so much better in this one, but he was still able to make some incredible leaps by skipping the steps that mere mortals (normal people with lower functioning brains) would need.
No doubt, this author can write a great story with lots of twists and turns. He can also develop memorable characters. They grow and learn --- even the new ones. I love that, which is why he is my 'most read' author.
There was one thing that was a little off putting. It was the dialogue in some places. It was feeling especially wordy and pointless, which surprised me since I'm not used to that from this author. The ending also seemed to also do some incredible leaping over reality and probability. I usually don't mind that, if it is linked to this world I've been asked to accept. I guess I didn't get that feel. So 3 stars.
Amos Decker is on his way to Washington DC after he's hired by the FBI as part of a special task force. The team will look for interesting cases to pursue and will vote on which one they should work on next. Melvin Mars is a convicted murderer counting down the last hours before his execution-for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier. Now another man has confessed to the crime. Melvin's case catches the attention of Amos Decker because of the similarities with his own life. Both were talented football players whose careers were cut short by tragedy. Both men's families were brutally murdered and in both cases another suspect came forward years later confessing to the crime. Then a member of Decker's team disappears. Is something larger and more sinister going on than just one convicted criminal's life hanging in the balance? This is one of my favorite series by David Baldacci. Hope it continues. Four stars.