The Last Mile

The Last MileThe Last Mile by David Baldacci
Series: Amos Decker
Genres: Crime, Mystery, Suspense
Published by Grand Central Publishing on April 19, 2016
Pages: 420

 

About The Last Mile (from the back cover):
Convicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution–for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier–when he’s granted an unexpected reprieve. Another man has confessed to the crime.

Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars’s case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy. Both men’s families were brutally murdered. And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime. A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth.

The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars–guilty or not–a free man. Who wants Mars out of prison? And why now?

But when a member of Decker’s team disappears, it becomes clear that something much larger–and more sinister–than just one convicted criminal’s life hangs in the balance. Decker will need all of his extraordinary brainpower to stop an innocent man from being executed.

After hearing, Ronie Kendig’s praise for David Baldacci’s work, I decided it was time to give him a try.  His latest book, The Last Mile is the second in his Amos Decker series.  Normally I would start at the beginning of a series, but in this case, it did not matter that I had not read the first book.  While there are certainly some tantalizing hints as to Decker’s past that would have been revealed in the first book, I had more than adequate information to make a strong connection with the characters in this story.

The opening for this book is exceptionally strong.  The first chapter is told from Melvin’s point of view as he’s preparing to be executed.

The opening for this book is exceptionally strong.  The first chapter is told from Melvin’s point of view as he’s preparing to be executed.  Reading his thoughts and how he handled his impending death was not only powerful, but gave the reader an immediate and intimate glimpse into his character.  Though Decker is the driving force and the one primarily responsible for solving the mystery, in my opinion, Melvin is the most important character in the book.  There is a certain weary attachment that is necessary for the early chapters to really work, but that character/reader relationship really must deepen for the story as a whole to work.  Mr. Baldacci does an excellent job of creating enough unease so that things remain mysterious, without alienating the reader from Melvin, which ultimately allows one to really connect with his character.

I very much enjoyed the plot for this story as well as watching the different pieces and characters come together.  It’s a fairly deep plot that ended up spanning fifty years.

I very much enjoyed the plot for this story as well as watching the different pieces and characters come together.  It’s a fairly deep plot that ended up spanning fifty years.  It takes some unexpected detours and reached into some social issues that are as relevant today as they were in the 1960s.  I appreciate how Mr. Baldacci worked these piece of the past into the present story and brought them together to form a coherent and highly entertaining mystery.

There were a few times, when I figured out things well before Decker did.

There were a few times, when I figured out things well before Decker did.  In many books, this isn’t an issue, but in The Last Mile it made the book feel a bit inconsistent.  Decker has an exceptional mind and the reader is given the impression that he is more intelligent, better equipped, and more capable of solving the mystery than they are.  Given how his character is set up, it didn’t feel realistic that he would miss or it would take as long as it does for him to make some connections.

Mr. Baldacci’s style is incredibly smooth and easy to read; it was very easy to get lost in this story.  There are a few slow spots towards the end of the book.  However, I think it is primarily because I had figured out those parts already and it felt slow reading Decker telling me what I already knew.

I am very glad I finally read one of David Baldacci’s books.  I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Mile and spending time with some really great characters.  The writings fantastic and the mystery was fun to follow.  I’m quite certain that I’ll be picking up more of Baldacci’s books.

Note:  This is a general market book and contains minimal strong language and violence.  All is within reason for the story being told.

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