Book Review : Memory Man

        I came to know about David Baldacci’s latest book, Memory Man, when I saw it was on the New York Times Top-10 Bestsellers list. Checked online for its synopsis and genre. Crime, thriller. Something definitely to my taste. Sure enough, I got a copy of the book and went about finishing it.
         The book follows an ex-police detective from Burlington called Amos Decker who suffered a severe head collision trauma on his pro football (American Football for non-Americans) debut, an accident which gave him the ability to remember clearly everything he saw or read or experienced, giving the book its name. Furthermore, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law were killed brutally by an unknown person. This second incident led to his leaving the force and going on a self-destructive path until a year after the murders, a person surrenders before the police, confessing to killing Decker’s family. Simultaneously, there’s a shooting incident in a local school after which the police chief, Decker’s old boss, asks him to help them in their investigation into the school shooting as a “consultant”. Decker agrees.
             The book has been written in a first person narrative structure from Decker’s point of view, which is great since we get a lot of insight into the way his mind functions and how he goes about using his abilities. Some of the things are a bit clichΓ©d like Decker being an excellent detective before his resignation, him being able to do things others can’t, both physically and mentally and some of the characters being pretty clichΓ©d too. I call them clichΓ©d because that’s generally how we find protagonists in movies and books to be, a touch above the rest. That said, the book is a lot of fun and a genuine thriller which, despite some of the clichΓ©s, performs amazingly as a crime thriller novel, peeling layer after layer of surprises. There is no way the reader can solve the crimes before the protagonists, and that’s a credit to Mr. Baldacci.
          There are elements of noir to the whole story. Decker as the classic hard-boiled detective has a flawed personality and is tormented, unable to forgive himself for not being able to catch his family’s killer, although the similarities end there. This book differs quite a lot from your usual Raymond Chandler or James Ellroy novel.
The action is largely set in Burlington and the main characters, apart from Decker himself, are his ex-partner in the force Mary Lancaster, FBI Special Agent Bogart and a local reporter Alex Jamison. It is also a story of revenge and redemption for Decker who had it all and lost before finding motivation again, just the kind of hero that makes us root for himself.
For both casual readers and longtime Baldacci fans, this is a superb book, one that is almost-unputdownable and an engrossing, fast-paced page-turner, if a little preposterous. Decker’s condition and subsequent abilities are just a bit too much on the wild side, but if the reader takes what Baldacci is serving at face value, he is in for quite a ride. The book grips you right from the first sentence and doesn’t let go till the end, exactly what you’d expect from a thriller novel. It is supposed to be the first in a series of books featuring Amos Decker. The synopsis feels like something straight out of a big-budget Hollywood thriller, something like Denzel Washington’s Deja Vu or Ben Affleck’s Paycheck, although not on the sci-fi side. I would look forward to any movie adaptation that might come, but in the meantime, the book is here to be savoured.

Rating : 4/5

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17 Comments

  1. Hi fellow book lover! I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading your post! To say it is great (not just this post, all of yours!) is an understatement. You are really talented (:
    Because of how much I loved this post I had to check out your blog and I couldn’t help but follow you because your blog is both amazing and beautiful! I am so happy I came across your blog and I can’t wait to read more from you, keep it up (:
    By the way this comment is towards all of your blog posts because they are all equally amazing and incredible (:

    Like

    1. I guess it was something to do with the title of the book, plus the fact that it wasn’t the usual pulp books that dominate the Indian writing scene today, you know, the engineering-student-meets-a-girl type, although its pulp in its own way! So I thought of giving it a try. Also, the book is quite short. Not very bulky. That meant a quick read and a quicker review. πŸ˜‰
      And frankly, you are really, really kind with your appreciation of my reviews and I am truly grateful for that.
      I just try to be honest with them, with as much of an unbiased job as I can do. And yes, I love thrillers. Although I’m thinking of including a few Booker Prize-nominated ones to my to-be read list too, fingers crossed! Ha ha.
      πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If I am kind with my appreciation, it is only because I love to read books and I love to read book reviews very much. There are some blogs which do only book reviews and I read them avidly, even when i have no intention to go get the book or even when i do not even like that particular genre.
        These days, everywhere we turn, there are books by Indian authors (thankfully and at last), the pulp fiction, getting into the psyche of the student, professional, traveler, exploring love, ambition and myriad other emotions.
        ‘Scandalous Housewives’ has Sunny Leone recommending it on the cover, which is something I found funny. But, great marketing strategy, I guess πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, Chetan Bhagat’s success sort of made pulp mainstream. The arthouse fiction was always there, with the heavyweights who were in the Booker race. But this kind of books created new writers and a lot more new readers. Most youngsters these days who have read even two books would have read one from Mr. Bhagat. So I guess that shows the popularity.
          As for Sunny Leone recommending SH, I agree with you. It’s a tremendous marketing strategy and bound to draw attention.
          Writing book and movie reviews has helped me discover so many wonderful blogs. When I wrote the review for “Memory Man”, I think I didn’t have much idea about review blogs. But I’m glad I wrote it, since it led to knowing so many wonderful blogs.
          I guess I took off on a mini-lecture. Pardon the indulgence. Some old habits don’t die. πŸ˜€
          Thanks again πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks for the longish and thoughtful reply. Mini lectures are good and engaging (and a blog marketing strategy).
            Chetan Bhagat is the pioneer of pulp fiction in India. Not only did he create a new genre but he also brought in a change in how books are marketed now. Publishers now push volumes by pricing the books really low. The ‘art house heavyweights’ as you put it, depended on excellent and well researched content.
            Incidentally, when i started my blog, I wanted to do nothing other than book reviews πŸ™‚

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hadn’t thought of the last reply as a marketing strategy but, whatever helps in popularising the blog, ryt? πŸ˜€
              Yeah, Mr. Bhagat led this revolution. I read his first four books and then grew tired of the melodrama. Now I never pick up his books, even for free (no offence to his books’ quality, just an honest personal opinion).
              I was unsure at the beginning of what specific content I wanted for my blog. Just learning and going with the flow I guess. πŸ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I was apprehensive that you might have been a fan and might find my comments offensive or, as some friends of mine have said, found me to be having standards far too high.
                Thankfully, all’s well! Cheers! πŸ˜€

                Liked by 1 person

        1. Hopefully I’d be able to put up decent reviews. πŸ™‚
          I try every trick in the book – friends, libraries, ebooks, everything!
          Early on in my career, I came across a box set of books in the office library. When I took it home for reading, I was left gasping for more, figuratively.
          That box set was Game, Set, Match Trilogy, the first of the 10 books in Bernard Samson series by Mr. Len Deighton. You know my love for that series by now. If you like character dramas or spy novels, I’d highly recommend that series to you.
          Have a great day.
          Thanks for taking time out to engage with me and my blog. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, your reviews would be v good, I am sure. Years ago, I used to yearn to own every good book. Today, I have to donate books to libraries because I have too many! So, I too depend on ‘other sources’ πŸ™‚
            Reading you, I am starting to get intrigued about Bernard Samson. I read everything that is well written.
            Well, this has been a good and engaging conversation. Great day to you too!

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the string of likes on the posts as well as for the follow.
      I’m yet to check out your blog but from the look of it, you too look like a book lover, and believe me, the pleasure is mutual.
      God bless. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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