1. The Last Mile book review: The action keeps coming at good pace

The Last Mile book review: The action keeps coming at good pace

David Baldacci delivers the thrills in full measure with his new book and a new detective

By: | Updated: June 12, 2016 6:45 AM

The Last Mile
David Baldacci
Pan Macmillan
Pp352
Rs 599

AFTER A rather insipid Will Robie series of books, David Baldacci is back on track with Amos Decker, a new detective that he introduced in Memory Man. Decker is no hot-shot detective. He’s fat, he has no money, no fancy clothes. Plus he has a curse, of not forgetting anything, because of a head injury sustained in a football game. But he’s smart, and he can figure out things nobody else can. In some sense, he is sort of endearing.

But if Baldacci scores full marks with his character, he also ticks all the boxes as far as plot and dialogue go. The story is taut, full of twists and turns, and action that keeps coming at a good pace.

Melvin Mars has been convicted for the murder of his parents, and is counting the hours for his execution. At the last minute, he is saved from the lethal injection because someone else has confessed to the crime.

Decker, who is part of an FBI task force, is keen to investigate Mars’ case, which reminds him of his own past. Both men were football players, both lost their families brutally, and in both cases, confessions to the crimes came years after the incidents.

But things are not as they seem. There is an ulterior motive behind getting Mars out of prison, and a much larger conspiracy at work. There is a lot more at stake than just one person’s freedom from jail. As the web of lies and deceit gets bigger and bigger, Decker uncovers layer after layer of conspiracy, finally getting to the truth.

Baldacci has a first-rate story that grips the reader from start to finish. His characters are etched out sharply and the plot is as tight as it gets, reminding readers of his Split Second days, when putting the book down before reaching the last page was unthinkable.

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