David Baldacci surfaces with another Amos Decker fast-paced thriller, keeping readers hooked from its explosive start through to the final, lingering sentences. While walking outside the FBI’s Hoover Building, Amos Decker witnesses a woman shot in apparent cold blood before the shooter turns the gun on himself. With the environs in shock, Decker uses his eidetic memory to capture the scene before reporting to his FBI Task Force. Usually handed cold cases, the team turns its attention to the murder of Anne Berkshire at the hands of one Walter Dabney. What might have led Dabney to gun down a substitute teacher who volunteered at the local hospice? It is only when they dig further that the extent to Dabney’s problems arise. Formerly employed with the NSA, Dabney appears to have amassed much debt and has been borrowing to pay it off? That being said, Decker is left confused when the DIA (Defence Intelligency Agency) begins poking around and tries to take control of the investigation. Using his synesthesia and hyperthymesia, Decker is able to help the team explore deeper motives and potential witnesses, which open new avenues of investigation. With no clear backstory on Anne Berkshire, might she have been hiding from a less than stellar past? Could Dabney’s attack on her could be the tip of something larger and much more sinister? In D.C., nothing is as it seems, leaving Decker to hope he can get to the root cause and bring closure to the Dabney family, whose shock grows with each new piece of information. Well paced and sure to keep most Baldacci fans pleased until the final page-turn.
I have long been a Baldacci fan and find myself still hooked after this novel. Amos Decker stands alone when compared to other thriller protagonists on the market today, making the series novels highly interesting and entertaining. Baldacci has brought another wonderful plot to the forefront and spun a tale that keeps the reader on their toes, while also injecting the perfect number of twists. Steeped in political struggles of the day, Baldacci turns to a mix of the Middle Eastern and neo-Cold War clashes, without instilling too many stereotypes within each chapter. Strong returning characters provide the reader with a foundation on which to base their expectations, permitting growth and sideways development. While Decker’s backstory has been revealed in the previous two novels, there are moments of reflection that provide new insight for the reader. Peppering new characters and leaving the door open for their return again allows Baldacci to offer great subplots, injecting humour into what is normally a darker subject. All those who grace the pages of the book can stand well on their own and mesh well with some Decker’s quirks, paving the way for a great story that can be devoured in short order. Baldacci continues to shine in a genre that has long been supersaturated, though I will admit this was not his absolute best work. I have seen some fans who have shared a less than exuberant sentiment when they completed the novel. One might posit their issue is rooted in the lack of synesthesia-based writing, which left them a sense of being cheated. However, I cannot speak for them or their personal struggles with the story. There is always room for improvement and Baldacci shows that he, too, is fallible.
Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for keeping the series strong and the stories sharp. I look forward to each new book you have and can assure you that I remain a fervent fan of all your work.