LONG SHADOWS, David Baldacci
Memory man FBI agent, Amos Decker, returns in this action-packed thriller to investigate the mysterious and brutal murder of a federal judge and her bodyguard at her home in an exclusive, gated community in Florida.
Things are changing for Decker. He’s in crisis following the suicide of a close friend and receipt of a letter concerning a personal issue which could change his life forever. Together with the prospect of working with a new partner, Frederica White, Amos knows that this case will take all of his special skills to solve.
As darkness falls, evil comes to light . . .
Judge Julia Cummins seemingly had no enemies, and there was no forced entry to her property. Close friends and neighbours in the community apparently heard nothing, and Cummins’ distraught ex-husband, Barry, and teenage son, Tyler, both have strong alibis. Decker must first find the answer to why the judge felt the need for a bodyguard, and the meaning behind the strange calling card left by the killer.
Someone has decided it’s payback time.
Obviously from the success of his book sales, Baldacci is a tremendously entertaining writer. Of course, he is polished and engaging, without question. But besides being an excellent writer, a superb story teller and or polished raconteur as well as a being a master planner for his plots, Baldacci may be an unintended mentor for writers if they pay attention to what and how he writes.
Subtle, simple, straightfoward but very effective is how Baldacci reviews and refreshes his characters for the reader. Often, book readers will forget main characters or become confused with the cast of characters in a book. Different writers handle this issue in different ways: some like Alka Joshi will write in an appendix that lists the book’s characters. Baldacci is more subtle. He will review the character for the reader by a short label to identify the character. He may even add in a phrase to remind the reader who the character is. Excellent. The process is simple but very successful. It doesn’t interrupt the story and helps the reader to recall the character.
Baldacci is excellent as a writer for developing his plots in gently sweeping strokes. The story unfolds in bits and pieces, slowly, steadily but always in a way that moves the plot along with small, engaging steps rather than thunderously loud thuds of action and incidents.
I like Baldacci because writes his stories with sophisticated plots that unfold in steady ways which one would hope a writer would do. But Baldacci also is exccellent in writing dialogues giving readers greater insights as to the development of the relationships his characters have with one another.
Of course, Amos Decker is a great foil for engaging readers because of his memory disability which at times seems to be a superpower rather than a challenging problem for him as a crime investigator.
Long Shadows is a very intricately woven tale of murders with multiple suspects. And even when you believe Baldacci has revealed the villain, he adds twists and turns that make a reader’s head spin. Baldacci makes his plots into puzzling problems that ultimately satisfy even the most discriminating of murder mystery readers.
Baldacci tells tales that grab readers, hold them and ultimately satisfy their craving for a good read. Long Shadows does that really well.
A good read !