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Memory Man


Memory Man

Hyperthymesia. Not a term you hear every day, but this is the affliction that the protagonist in David Baldacci's latest novel suffers from. Technically, it means excessive memory. In an age when we regularly see stories in the news about NFL players suffering the long-term effects of concussions, Amos Decker actually is experiencing the opposite of this.

Decker’s NFL career was cut well short due to a hit that literally rocked his world. Instead of causing a debilitating brain disease, his brain was turned into a super memory machine. He has complete and total recall of everything that has happened to him since his accident. In fact, he left football for law enforcement, making a unique and successful career as a homicide detective.

Hence the title “Memory Man.” The problem with Decker is that he did lose a big part of who he was when his brain was rewired. Like many autistic individuals, he lost much of his personality and has no filter or ability to say the right thing in social settings. Most of his emotions also have been sublimated to the point of non-existence.

"Readers will find it very easy to empathize with the frustration Decker faces when he examines his life and will cringe when it seems that it is all unraveling on him again."

This is put to the test when Decker, returning one night from a stakeout, finds his entire family slaughtered in his own house. His wife, brother-in-law and young daughter are brutally murdered, each in a different way. While he may not be able to respond emotionally like he used to, this traumatic event puts his memory ability into overdrive, and he actually sees events like this in colors. The colors he experiences when holding his dead daughter in his arms is a memory he wishes he could forget.

Decker is now lost and has taken his leave from the police force. However, he will be pulled right back into the middle of the action when his former team calls on him to assist with his unique detection skills in a brutal case involving a school shooting that has left several teachers and young students dead at the hands of a crazed gunman. Decker and his ex-partner, Mary Lancaster, look at the crime scene, and he immediately is able to put things in a different perspective. To begin with, he realizes that there had to have been more than one person involved in perpetrating the crime. He also recognizes that one of them must have been on the inside.

Decker, a self-proclaimed acquired savant, is also dealing with another stressful issue in his life. He chooses to confront the man imprisoned for the murder of his family. He needs to resolve for himself the motives the killer had for committing the crime. When the killer claims he targeted Decker's family personally because of something Decker did to him, Decker is at a loss as he cannot remember any slight to this man. The assailant also infers that the school shooting may have been indirectly involved in the vendetta against Decker and that those who planned it knew he would be called in to assist with the case.

What Baldacci puts together with the rest of MEMORY MAN is a roller coaster of actions and emotions, puzzles and hidden clues that will force Decker to confront his past, present and future. He is a highly unique protagonist who I trust Baldacci will use again. Readers will find it very easy to empathize with the frustration Decker faces when he examines his life and will cringe when it seems that it is all unraveling on him again.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on April 22, 2015

Memory Man
by David Baldacci

  • Publication Date: September 15, 2015
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1455559814
  • ISBN-13: 9781455559817