LAST MILE, David Baldacci

It may not be Baldacci’s best but even at his most mediocre, Baldacci kicks literary field goals with minimal effort.

The Last Mile is an acceptable read for a Baldacci creation, better than most other writers by far but not the highest calibre of which he is capable.

Still, it is a novel which will help pass the time on a back porch in the summer.

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.

Richard’s commentary
Baldacci never misses his target for me, writing a good book, a book which is a page-turner. The Last Mile is on track, a good story, a sophisticated plot, all combined and blended well by good writing.

At times, the novel lulled my attention. I found my mind wandering, my focus less intent, my mind distracted. This is surprising for a Baldacci book as usually his books are written so that every page, every line is riveting. This book was not so much. It was a good story. The hero was someone for whom I could and did cheer. I felt sorry for the hero because of his brain injuries but this sadness was tempered by my support for his application, creativity and dogged pursuit of his investigation.

Baldacci is skilled in his craft, weaving current social attention of diet dedication for his hero and he weaves threads throughout his entire story to keep it totally intact and consistent. Amos Decker is an NFL veteran who has allowed himself to gain too much weight. His client, Melvin Mars, also an NFL vet and a convicted murderer who has been saved from death row at the last hour, is the antithesis of Decker physically. Yet the two figures form a dedicated bond through their common love for football and together they work to find the truth behind the crime for which Mars convicted and sentenced with the death penalty.

The final word
The book is a decent one for passing the time. It reads well, entertaining and captivating. However, though the plot tries to offer depth, this read overall is ‘light weight.’

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