The Last Mile (Amos Decker #2), by David Baldacci

Seven stars

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.