Year 2 / Book 18: The Last Mile

18) The Last Mile by David Baldacci

It’s fair to say this won’t be winning any literary prizes anytime soon. For some reason, I was in the mood for some trashy page-turning nonsense that woudn’t tax my brain, and this popped up in the Kindle. Baldacci is one of those machine-like James Patterson creatures who churns out easily-readable fare and sells by the millions. The secret being something of a gift for plot, for readability, for creativity and, occasionally, a decently drawn character. I’ve dipped in and out over the years, with little more than a vague sense of having passed the time as a memory.

This book is no different really – Amos Decker is a character (who must have been in an earlier book) who has a specific gift in that a brain injury has somehow led him to have completely perfect memory recall. He also has synaesthesia on top of this, which means that, occasionally, rooms go blue. He’s been drafted in to the FBI as a citizen and, in the first of a series of completely unbelievable episodes, overrules the established team to say they should take up a case that he heard on the radio on the way there. This happens to be about a man being saved from being executed on death row at the last minute; a man that Decker had played American Football against in college.

Still with me? Well it only gets more ridiculous from here, spiralling into absurdity which takes in a blown-up caravan, a safety deposit box, Spanish slang, racist incidents from the 60s, a double-cross, a kidnap and someone picking the surname Mars because it was their favourite planet. To say that you have to suspend your disbelief when reading Baldacci is a bit like saying you might have to put some milk on Weetabix to make them edible. Of course you do; but this one was particularly preposterous to the point that it genuinely didn’t make any logical or rational sense by the end, and Decker was ending each chapter with a bit of speculation, and then someone asking “could that possibly be true?” as if Baldacci didn’t quite believe what he was writing either.

In short, I won’t be doing that again for a while; there are so many other just as readable, thriller-y page-turners out there with better characters and more interest and depth, that I’m not sure why you’d bother. And writing that, I’m not why I did either.

Score: 4/10

BUY THIS BOOK The Last Mile (Amos Decker series Book 2)

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