I’ve made no secret of my love for Amos Decker, a character created by David Baldacci four years ago via the first novel in the series, Memory Man. It was the perfect opener because that’s exactly who and what Decker is thanks to a football injury he sustained when younger.
It left him with hyperthymesia – the inability to forget anything, as well as seeing ‘colours’ around people. The first book opened 16mths after his wife and daughter had been murdered, when former cop Decker had hit rock bottom.
Vengeance, ahem, justice awakened him however and he’s been working with the FBI since, as part of a small task force – though generally given a bit of a free rein.
by David Baldacci
Series: Amos Decker #5
Published by Macmillan
on April 9th 2019
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 1509874399, 9781760785819, 9781509874408
Amos Decker and his FBI partner Alex Jamison are visiting his hometown of Burlington, Ohio, when he's approached by an unfamiliar man. But he instantly recognizes the man's name: Meryl Hawkins. He's the first person Decker ever arrested for murder back when he was a young detective.
Though a dozen years in prison have left Hawkins unrecognizably aged and terminally ill, one thing hasn't changed: He maintains he never committed the murders.
Could it be possible that Decker made a mistake all those years ago? As he starts digging into the old case, Decker finds a startling connection to a new crime that he may be able to prevent, if only he can put the pieces together quickly enough...
This book opens when Decker is in his former hometown for the anniversary of his wife and daughter’s death. He’s there with FBI partner Alex who’s mostly there for moral support. His grief is interrupted however by Hawkins, declaring his innocence 13 years after Decker and his former partner, Mary Lancaster put him away.
Because Decker’s like a dog with a bone he mentally runs through the evidence in the earlier case and cannot see any room for error. But then, Hawkins is killed (sorry, spoiler but otherwise you’d wonder why he couldn’t explain his innocence in more detail himself) so Decker and Lancaster reunite to re-examine old evidence with fresh eyes.
The murder was Decker and Lancaster’s first homicide so they were pretty green but it seemed like an open and shut case. It’s only now they question that it was – perhaps – a little too easily solved. And unsurprisingly while they’re unpicking the events of the past there’s movement in the present following Hawkins’ murder and it’s not long before Decker’s put the local police force offside.
Jamison disappears for much of this novel as she and Decker have been forbidden from working the case – as the FBI has no jurisdiction / interest. Obviously it doesn’t stop Decker, but he encourages Jamison to leave and not risk her career.
I was reminded that we also didn’t see much of her in the second book of the series, The Last Mile, as I felt it was one that book’s weaknesses. I wonder if it’s because there’s a subtle (well, ish) sexual tension there and Baldacci’s wanting to drag that out.
Thankfully Jamison’s not left Decker completely in the lurch and Melvin Mars – former death row inmate who Decker cleared in The Last Mile – comes to help.
In the last book in the series (The Fallen) Decker got another severe blow to the head and we all wondered if his special powers would be lost. (A good and bad thing obviously.) Here, he’s still struggling with the occasional side effect and not sure what it means.
And here, with no Jamison to nudge him, Decker’s forced to get in touch with his human side as he realises his old partner is having some personal troubles; and Lancaster’s surprised that Decker is (now) seemingly capable of empathy. To some extent. It seems perhaps his social skills are improving.
Interestingly this is the first time in the series Decker ponders on his ‘thirst for justice’. He realises it came before the murder of his family and perhaps started with the football injury that almost cost him his life, reflecting on its preciousness for the first time.
I loved most of this book as the mystery unfolded and connections were uncovered, but I wasn’t ultimately enamoured of the direction it took, as it seemed a tad unrealistic (and left-fieldish).
Reading back on my reviews of the first four books, I seem to have occasionally had some issues with the plots themselves but – having said that – the characters and their story arcs are so strong it’s easy to ignore occasional feasibility issues. And now, I eagerly await number six in the series!
Redemption by David Baldacci will be published in Australia by Pan Macmillan and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.