My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My rating is 4.25 stars.
It is a very good thriller and mystery. A real page turner and engrossing. I love David Baldacci better than Patterson and Cornwell.
The premise of the novel is a mental condition called hyperthymesia which relates to near-perfect recall of one’s personal or autobiographical past. The hero of the novel can not forget anything and it plays in his head like a DVR no matter how old the memory is. Baldacci starts it from here and takes you on an amazing ride.
The macguffin in this novel is the motive of villain in killing Amos Decker family and subsequent shooting in school and kills.[In fiction, a MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin or maguffin) is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation]. Once you can make peace with that you will enjoy this book thoroughly.
The hero Amos Decker is a troubled soul whose family is killed brutally. He goes into depression and leave police force. He was a footballer who took a nasty hit which led to a mental condition which does not allow him to forget anything. This is more a curse than boon. Then there is a mindless shooting in his own school and 7 people are killed. Nobody knows how the killer entered or exited the school. He is asked to consult and he reluctantly agrees. Later on when it is found that the same gun is used in both his family and school killings he becomes resolute in finding the killer.
The pace is unrelenting and Amos keep finding new leads. You also feel the pain of everybody involved and this all lead to a satisfying climax. Everything is explained in the end except maybe why Special agent Laffertty was killed.
"I am Amos Decker. I’m forty-two years old and look at least ten years older (on a good day, of which I haven’t had one in four hundred and seventy-nine days), and feel at least a century older than that. I used to be a cop and then a detective but am no longer gainfully employed in either occupation. I have hyperthymesia, which means I never forget anything. I’m not talking about memory techniques where you can teach yourself to remember things better, like the order of a pack of cards using association tricks. No, with me it’s just a turbocharged brain that has somehow unlocked what we all have but never use. There aren’t many but never use. There aren’t many hyper-Ts—my shorthand—in the world. But I’m officially one of them.
And it seems my sensory pathways have also crossed streams so that I count in colors and see time as pictures in my head. In fact, colors intrude on my thoughts at the most random times. We’re called synesthetes. So I count in color and I “see” time and sometimes I also associate color with people or objects.
Many people with synesthesia are also autistic or have Asperger’s syndrome. Not me. But I no longer like to be touched. And jokes don’t really register with me anymore. But that may be because I don’t ever intend to laugh again.
I was once normal, or as close as humans get to that state.
And now I’m not."
"This “gift” came to me when I was all of twenty-two years old. I was a middling college football player who walked on to an NFL team carrying only fair ability, but a ferocious chip on my shoulder. I stepped on the field for the first game of the season after playing my butt off during the preseason and surviving the final cut. I’m on the kickoff team. My job is simple: Sacrifice my body to create mayhem and holes in the return team so other guys can make the stop. I run my ass down the field. I’m about to make mayhem. I’m running so hard that snot is flying from my nose and spit from my mouth. I’m being paid more money than I’ve ever made in my life. I aim to earn it. I’m about to lay some dude out, stone cold out.
And that’s all I remember. Dwayne LeCroix, a rookie out of LSU, was five inches shorter and fifty pounds lighter than me but apparently a force to be reckoned with, because he laid me out on that field with a hit I never saw coming. The dude blew me up, as they say in the NFL. He would be out of the league in four years with both knees devoid of cartilage, his left shoulder pared down to nothing but bone on bone, and his bank account overdrawn. He was currently residing in a max prison in Shreveport for crimes committed against his fellow humans, and he would die there one day either soon or distant. But on that day he walked away, fist pumping and sauntering like the cock over the hens, while I lay on the field unconscious.
And after that collision nothing for me would ever be the same.
Not a damn thing."
“You can’t arrest someone for thinking about committing a crime.”
“No, and sometimes that’s more a curse than a blessing.”
"The PD said smoothly, “A confession that he is now recanting. Mr. Leopold is bipolar, went off his medications, which resulted in some unfortunate emotional distress. He is now back on his meds and his reason has returned, hence his passing the psych exam.” The lawyer held up some documents stapled together. “And then there’s this. Permission to approach?”
“Savants, autistics, Asperger’s, synesthesia, and hyperthymesia.”
“Thymesia. In Greek, hyper means ‘excessive,’ and thymesia translates to ‘memory.’ Put ’em together and you get me. True hyperthymesia really relates to near-perfect recall of one’s personal or autobiographical past. I have that, but I also can’t forget anything I see, read, or hear. Perfect recall of, well, everything. I had no idea my brain was that big. But I apparently use more of it than most, but only because I got my ass handed to me on a football field.”
“I see colors where others don’t. In numbers, in places and objects. My cognitive sensory pathways apparently also got melded from the hit I took.”
“But I guess there were a lot of positives. I mean, a perfect memory makes school and work pretty easy.”
He looked back up at the building. “Do you like yourself?”
“Do you like the person you are?”
“Well, yes. I mean, I could exercise more and I have yet to find the right guy, but yeah, I like who I am.”
“Well, I liked who I was too. And now that person is gone. Only I didn’t have a choice in the matter.”
Her face fell. “Right. I didn’t really think about that.”
“And it would be nice to be able to forget some things. People do, you know. Want to forget some things.”
“Decker, even someone with a normal mind would never be able to forget something like what happened to your family.”
“But I remember every single detail of it, in the color blue. I will never forget any of it, even exactly how I felt when I found the bodies. Not until the day I die. For me time does not heal, because my mind no longer allows for the passage of time to dull my memories. They are as vivid today as the day it happened. It’s like a picture that never, ever fades. Some people can’t go back? I really can’t go forward.”
He turned to look down at her. “I can’t process sympathy anymore,” he said. “I used to. But not anymore.”
Lancaster eyed with disdain the stripper, who was in the process of shedding her skintight Catwoman costume.
“Amazes me what gets young men excited.”
“It’s the same thing that’s always gotten them excited,” said Decker absently. “Pretty women in the process of taking off their clothes.”
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