The Last Mile
by David Baldacci
read by Kyf Brewer
audio - 10 CD's hardcover - 432 pages
Read an excerpt
When we first met Amos Decker he was living life looking in the rear-view-mirror. His big dreams of a being an NFL star ended on the first play. The crushing helmet to helmet blow
resulted in rare cognitive phenomenons known as syynethesia and hyperthymesia, which lead to a stellar, two decade career in law enforcement. That too ended with a tragic blow. When returning home from work one night he found his wife, daughter and brother-in-law murdered. Living in a small hotel room, this big man, with few social skills worked doggedly to see his family vindicated.
Having helped the FBI capture a vicious murderer, it's no surprise when he's tapped to join a newly formed cold case unit that includes journalist Alexandra Jamison, clinical psychologist Lisa Davenport, and Todd Milligan, an FBI field agent. Passing time on the drive to FBI Headquarters in Quantico Virginia, Decker listens to NPR radio. When a story about the pending execution of Melvin Mars grabs his attention. Decker can hardly believe his ears, as he listens to the striking similarities between what has happened to him and the Melvin Mars case. He arrives in Virginia and convinces the team to look into the case. Then at the eleventh-hour an Alabama death row inmate throws a wrench into the Texas death chamber's clock when he confesses to single-handedly killing Mars' parents. Freeing Mars was simply the first step in unraveling the recipe for murder that sent an innocent man to death row for twenty years. The officers that built the case and the prosecutors that won the conviction are uninterested in the last minute reprive. They are interested in only one thing...seeing Melvin Mars executed. And there's a "southern mafia boss" hell bent on doing what the state of Texas didn't.
Amos Decker is a fascinating mix of damaged soul, genius brain, and unlikely hero. However, if this series is to be long running, his quirky habits and lone-wolf attitude need to be changed. He talks at, not with team members. They can't add depth and dimension to the story when Decker is determined to have all eyes on him. There's more talk than first person action. While this is an easy, quick way to convey just the important information. It eliminates all the extra stuff we would get from a the first person view. And me personally.. I like having the stuff. It's one of Decker's "flying solo" tricks that triggers a rushed ending that left me feeling a bit cheated.
From D.C. to Alabama, Mississippi to Texas, Baldacci mixes an interesting southern brew, even when peppered with red herrings. I could see what was coming from a mile away, and I liked it anyway.
**Although I felt Memory Man fell just a little flat - it's a solid read that introduces a fascinating lead character. It's something new, not the same ol' cookie cutter suspense/thriller story.
Even though The Last Mile would be an enjoyable solo read, Memory Man is the foundation upon which Baldacci is building the Amos Decker series and I recommend reading it first.