Sunday, April 22, 2018
By JEFF AYERS
“The Fallen” (Grand Central Publishing), by David Baldacci
In David Baldacci’s “The Fallen,” Amos Decker, who had a terrible head injury while playing football, can recall all of his memories to the slightest detail as if rewinding a recorded program. He now works with the FBI. He’s on vacation with his partner, Alex Jamison, who wants to visit her sister in a small town in Pennsylvania. Things go wrong almost immediately.
The town of Baronville is like many other small towns, struggling to survive now that the mill has closed and mining has dried up. Opiod addiction has almost crippled the town as well. Alex’s sister and her family moved there due to a job promotion, but they are finding living in this new place is challenging. The first evening of their visit, Amos witnesses something unusual in the house next door and ends up stumbling onto the site of a double homicide.
The police acknowledge that these murders are only the latest in a string of several, and now Amos and Alex’s plans for a relaxing vacation away from the job have vanished. With his ability to remember everything, Amos looks over the clues and attempts to decipher a pattern. When he and Alex are almost killed, Amos realizes that his memory is now somewhat fuzzy.
Baldacci is a wonderful storyteller, and he incorporates wonderful characters into baffling conspiracies. Mimicking the style of his Camel Club series of novels, he takes on small-town America, capturing both good and bad elements. He demonstrates why these small towns are worth saving. It’s a theme he has explored before, but it still has potency and relevance.