Book Review: Long Shadows, David Baldacci

Book Review: Long ShadowsMemory Man Book 7, David Baldacci

Long Shadows, David Baldacci

Thriller: Long ShadowsMemory Man Book 7, David Baldacci


Amos Decker, the “Memory Man,” does not like change. He does not like that his long-time partner at the FBI has taken a promotion and moved to New York City. He does not like that he has been assigned a new partner. He does not like that his boss has retired and left the Bureau. Most of all, he does not like that his memory has become less infallible. Not that he liked being unable to forget anything. But he was used to it, he could count on it, and now it was letting him down.


Which may be the harbinger of future, even more unpleasant, changes to come.


Decker and his new partner, Special Agent Frederica White, are sent to Florida to investigate the murder of a judge and her bodyguard. When they arrive, they find that the local agents were not briefed about their coming–something highly irregular. They begin investigating the judge’s cases, exploring the possibility that someone who disliked their sentence sought the ultimate revenge. They also looked into the judge’s life since most murders are done by someone the victim knows. What they find, though, is something completely unexpected, something that could result in Decker and/or White becoming the next target.


David Baldacci, as I have said many times before, knows how to tell a story. His characters are complex and driven by inner passions and demons. White is determined to prove herself as an agent. A young, black, single mother, she is well aware that she breaks every mold of the standard FBI agent. She is fiercely protective of her family, of her career, and of her partner. At first put off by Decker’s often unpleasant manner, she is won over by his dogged determination to find the truth, and by his unexpected understanding of her family dynamics. When he sends her back to Washington she assumes he is trying to get rid of her. Rather, since someone needs to go to Washington, he thought she might want to see her children. That kind of thoughtfulness was not something she had come to expect from anyone, much less someone of Decker’s formidable personality.


It might be easy to dismiss Baldacci’s work as formulaic, checking all of the boxes in the thriller matrix. I think that is missing some of the point. Admittedly, there is a certain familiarity with his novels, a general pattern that is similar to other thrillers of his genre. But there is also a passion within them. He writes characters that do not conform to whatever “normal” is. Decker has a brain injury. White is an “angry black woman,” but that is far from all she is and her anger always has a context and a purpose. For someone who writes big books with righteous people pursuing evil in the face of danger, Baldacci sneaks in some very modern sensibilities. His books may fit into a similar genre as, say, Tom Clancy, but Baldacci is not jingoistic and his politics cannot be pigeonholed.


Long Shadows is what you would expect from a David Baldacci thriller, but for readers who are open to it Baldacci has a lot more to offer. If you want a great story, this qualifies. If you want to watch someone expertly develop characters, this is an excellent choice for that as well.

Long Shadows, David Baldacci

Book Review: Long ShadowsMemory Man Book 7, David Baldacci

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