While on what’s supposed to be a low-key vacation, Amos Decker accidentally finds all kinds of trouble in The Fallen, the latest novel in David Baldacci’s New York Times bestselling Memory Man series.
Following the events of The Fix, retired NFL player turned cop turned star agent of an elite FBI task force Amos Decker and his partner, Alex Jamison, head to Baronville, Pennsylvania to visit Alex’s sister, Amber, and her children.
Still socially awkward, one of several symptoms resulting from a bone-crushing hit to his head while playing linebacker in the NFL, Decker struggles to connect with his partner’s family. Only little Zoe, the six-year-old with an old soul, gets him to open up a bit when Amos admits to himself while sipping a beer on the back deck that when it comes to catching killers, “it’s really the other thing I’m good at.”
Along with being a tad awkward, the career-ending hit also left Decker with two unique traits — hyperthymesia and synesthesia. In layman’s terms, Decker can now associate things such as death, for example, with a color (similar to Dominika Egorova’s abilities in Jason Matthews’ Red Sparrow trilogy).
Also, he cannot forget. . . anything. Ever.
Decker’s mind works like a security camera with an unlimited amount of hard drive space to store video data on. He takes everything in and can play it all back when needed, replaying events and images in his mind with absolute clarity. Obviously, this is a valuable trait to the FBI, who hired up the Memory Man to use his unique skills to solve high-profile crimes. And while his condition has enabled him to be successful in his new career, Decker’s inability to forget is also a curse. Bad memories, painful moments in his past, the types of things people would want to suppress and move on from, are still fresh in his mind. Sadly, that includes the death of his wife and daughter.
By all accounts, Decker is brilliant. Even little Zoe gets a kick out of his ability to memorize things with no effort. But he’s also damaged.
This time around, Alex is trying to help encourage her partner to relax a bit. And Decker tries, at least until he notices the neighbor’s lights flicking next door, followed by sparks shooting through the window. Upon investigating things, Decker finds the reason for the flying sparks — blood from a corpse has begun soaking into exposed electrical wires.
It turns out that the dead body is one of several recent homicides to hit Baronville over the past few weeks. With the local police unable to make any headway on the open cases, Decker and Alex call off their vacation, roll up their sleeves, and get to work.
It doesn’t take long for the duo to realize that nothing about the small Pennsylvania town is quite what it seems — as Baronville has struggled since the local mill closed and an opioid addiction broke out among the town’s people.
After chasing several leads, an attempt is made on Decker’s life. But rather than scaring off the large FBI agent, Amos now knows he’s barking up the right tree. . . he just needs to stay alive long enough to reach the top and expose the real bad guys.
With more than 130 million copies of his books in print around the world, David Baldacci is one of the most beloved and successful storytellers of his time. Amazingly, he continues to juggle multiple bestselling series, a list that’ll grow when he introduces readers to Atlee Pine, an all-new character, in this November’s Long Road to Mercy.
A year or two ago, I’d have been tempted to say that Decker was Baldacci’s second or third best active protagonist, after Will Robie and John Puller. However, Baldacci’s last three Decker novels have been terrific, elevating the Memory Man to the top of the list. His ability to recall is flawless, but as a character, Amos Decker is deeply flawed, and David Baldacci continues to use that and develop him masterfully.
Amos Decker shines again. . . The Fallen is David Baldacci at his very best.
Author: David Baldacci
Series: Memory Man #4
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.