Amos Decker has not had an easy life. In his very first pro football game, he’s catastrophically injured and is left with a curious side effect. He never forgets anything. He uses this to his advantage and now, twenty years later, is a highly respected police detective, and happily married with a beautiful little girl. Tragically, his life falls apart when, after returning home from a stakeout, he discovers the bodies of his wife, daughter, and brother-in-law. With his family gone, the mysterious killer elusive, and the memories of that horrible night forever imprinted upon him, Decker loses everything. After being temporarily homeless, he now calls a Residence Inn his home, and scrapes out a meager living as a private investigator. Suddenly, fourteen months after the murders, a man confesses, and at the same time another horrific act rocks the community of Burlington. As Decker becomes involved in the investigation, only one thing is clear. If he’s to uncover the truth, he’ll have to use his unique talents, which could cost him what little he has left.
Memory Man is the first book in what looks to be a new series by this prolific author. Overall, I found it to be a pretty solid start with an intriguing and very sympathetic main character. Amos Decker is the type of person that your heart just aches for. His very first game with the Cleveland Browns, he’s injured so badly that he almost dies. He’s left with hyperthymesia, which basically means he remembers every single second, of every single day. And because that isn’t enough, he also has synesthesia, which makes him see colors around people and objects. While these abilities make him an excellent detective, when he comes home to find his family murdered, the gruesome scenes replay continuously in his head. It’s no wonder why he quits the force, loses his house and gains fifty pounds. He’s just somewhat getting his life back together when there’s a mass school shooting that somehow winds up being linked to the murders. At the same time, someone turns themself in and claims he killed Decker’s family. Despite this new opportunity to discover what really happened that night, Decker is initially reluctant to join the investigation mainly because he’s forced to revisit the traumatic memories he’s been trying so desperately to forget. Once it’s clear that everything is tied to Decker himself though, he stops at nothing to get to the truth. The secondary characters, in the form of an FBI agent, a tenacious reporter (is there any other kind?), and Decker’s former partner are okay, but they’re basically there as support, and not really interesting in their own right. The plot was a bit far-fetched, but mesmerizing and I couldn’t wait to see the unmasking of the villain. There is a lot of repetition in this book, which given Decker’s abilities, wasn’t a big surprise. Some of it though was unnecessary however, and somewhat annoying. For example: how many times do you have to call attention to someone’s weight? Decker was obviously a big guy as a football player and gained even more weight when he lost everything. For some reason though, David Baldacci felt like he had to keep reminding his readers of how his character’s appearance had taken a downward turn. Because I found Decker so intriguing though, I’ll definitely be picking up the next book.