THE LAST MILE
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.
What I liked: The core characters from the previous book, The Memory Man, are brought back together under a program working for the FBI. Amos Decker is at the core of course but, Alexandra Jamison is right there with him. There are a few additions but Amos and Alex seem to be the nucleus at this point.
The unit would bring both civilians and FBI agents together to solve cold cases. The civilians involved would have unique skills in investigation. Not only was Amos previously a cop but due to a football injury he has hyperthymesia or a perfect memory. Alex has experience in running investigations and lots of contacts. Added to and in charge of the unit is Agent Ross Bogart, Agent Todd Milligan and clinical psychologist Lisa Davenport. A small unit to be sure but they would have FBI resources and then of course, they are an experiment.
Amos is not in the best of shape and Alex is determined to get him healthy which makes for some of the lighter moments in the story. There are not a lot of lighter moments.
The story starts with Melvin Mars about to be executed (in Texas) for a murder 20 years ago, he says he didn't commit. At the last moment an inmate on death row in Alabama confesses to the killing. On his drive to join the FBI task force, Amos remembers playing football against Mars and the case intrigues him enough that he proposes the unit investigate it as a cold case. It seems Montgomery's confession is just a shade too perfect and Amos catches onto that fact.
Their investigation seems to raise more questions than it solves. In addition, it appears there are multiple reasons that Mars was framed in the first place. Mars had been accused and convicted of killing his parents, Roy and Lucinda Mars, his white father and black mother. Apparently Melvin didn't/doesn't know his parent as well as he thinks he does. The unit uncovers practically no information on his parents until they showed up in Texas.
The lead into the story was the hook that kept me turning the pages. Each little nugget of information only leads to more questions and I had to literally make myself stop reading to eat and sleep!
My review might sound a bit ho-hum but believe me, the way Mr. Baldacci puts the story together is masterful. The mystery and suspense are top notch and I completely adore Amos.
What I didn't like: There is a bit of jumping around but be patient because there is a reason for it. The other thing seems to be my standing on my soap box about the costs of publisher generated e-books. The Kindle edition of The Last Mile is $14.99. The hardcover is only $17.40 and believe it or not, the best buy to me is the audible version at $9.47.
I really can't wait to see what Mr. Baldacci has in store for Amos and crew in the next book.