Top critical review
More like a Scooby-Doo mystery than Baldacci’s previous in this series…
Reviewed in the United States on July 5, 2018
This installment in the Amos Decker/Memory Man series was somewhat of a letdown. Carrying far too much complexity with far too many one dimensional characters, I’m afraid that this work “The Fallen” appears to be an idea in Baldacci’s mind that seemed to get rushed onto paper far too quickly without the advantage of proper pre-thought of how seductive it might appear or appeal to the reader. This got way too complicated way too fast with far too many characters doing far too many things and with virtually none of them registering on the interest scale. What could have been an interesting plotline turned into an amalgam of killings followed by page after page of explanation of what we’d just read. It was like Baldacci organized his story-line index cards, wrote the book to these and then realized, “Hey, this is pretty complicated, I better insert some explanations along the way.” And the absolute worst part was the very end when all the survivors gathered together for a final “let’s explain all of the aspects of this entire book” session, much like at the end of each of the Scooby-Doo episodes…I kept expecting Shaggy to interject some benign point followed by Scoob uttering “Rutt-Rooww.”
OK, it’s not entirely that bad but it is a far cry from the initial Memory Man. We start in Baronville, Pennsylvania with Amos and his partner Alex Jamison on vacation, visiting Alex’s sister. And this is another “bone to pick” with Baldacci…he’d ended the previous Decker book with an enticing note of impending romance between these two and the notion of them on “vacation” together gives the reader hope of this relationship advancing. I’ll stop you right there…there is NO ADVANCEMENT one way or the other in this book, NOTHING! Whether Baldacci does this on purpose or not, we’ll have to wait for the next installment.
Baronville is a rundown, post-industry town with a serious opiod problem. One evening Decker discovers a series of murders and his “vacation” turns into an investigation. Through an, again, unusual and complex series of events, we learn of the town’s originator, the family of John Baron the first and of an alleged treasure left behind when he died at his mansion high up at the town’s outskirts. Intrigue, dubious and sinister characters, drugs and murder all get interwoven into a plot that only Decker seems able to figure out. Going far beyond his “memory man” capabilities here (in my opinion) he’s able to determine all angles and all outcomes in the end, most, it seems to me, by just educated guesses. I had to re-read many paragraphs just to understand what had been uncovered at that particular point and by the end, I just gave up, actually skimming through most of the explanations because I found that I didn’t really care anymore.
There were some heartwarming moments admittedly…Decker shows a new side of himself when he deals with Alex’s niece, five year Zoe, who reminds him of his own daughter. But the overall vibe here is that this is a book that was just so rushed and un-edited that it does a dis-service to the character. We’re used to a certain quality with an Amos Decker work and we definitely do not get it here. And gauging by the reviews here on Amazon, Baldacci can only deduce that he’s still striking the right chord, which is a shame…I really wonder how many of these positive reviews aren’t emoting their true feelings. I know that I totally loved the previous three in this series and it’s difficult to pan this work, but it’s necessary…this is definitely not a great book.