Memory Man by David Baldacci is an excellent way to spend some time in the company of a brilliantly conceived character named Amos Decker. Or maybe it is that the plot is so tightly constructed and the subordinate characters and everyone else also hits the right marks. The elements of the book work together to bring the characters to life in such a way that though I still recall how well put together some classical works are by Henry James and Charles Dickens I think such a comparison is too unfeasible because of the manifold purposes of the authors. Baldacci is trying to give us a tense thriller I believe with his own particular spin on it.

Decker is a former cop who several years after the unsolved murders of his wife and daughter is just in kind of a limbo. When he was younger he suffered a terrible blow as a professional football player and the result was that his brain was injured and he became unable to forget anything. He is a synesthete and has a sensory confusion as well as perfect memory or hyperthymesia. But when murders begin to happen again with apparent links to the murders of his family Decker must return to memories of finding his deceased family members to extirpate clues from what is blistering in his mind. Can he find details long concealed in his perfect recall that will help to find this terrible killer?

I find that my criticism of a former book by Baldacci may have been a trifle harsh. I had mentioned another classic which I had just read and concluded Baldacci could have done better. Secretly I thought this because I didn’t learn anything new like words or facts and the plot really did not teach me anything. But I have realized I needed to lighten up a little and not be so serious. (How long that will last I don’t know. Probably a minute). If I had any carpings about this book it would be that there was a lack of insight into how Decker’s mind was working. If Baldacci would have investigated the story of Solomon Shereshevsky, the Russian mnemonic genius, he might have gotten more ideas for the sensory storms that come with synesthesia. Perhaps he felt that would impinge on the story. To his credit he does explore this a little bit. Otherwise, really great book. 4 out of 4.


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