Memory Man: Amos Decker, book 1

Memory Man: Amos Decker, book 1




If I had a memory like that of Amos Decker, I would write reviews of audiobooks that I read years ago without needing to read them again. This would probably cause my editor to suffer a heart attack.


With over 110 million copies of his novels in print, David Baldacci is one of the most widely read storytellers in the world. Now he introduces a startling, original new character: a man with perfect memory who must solve his own family’s murder.
Amos Decker’s life changed forever – twice.
The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good and left him with an improbable side effect – he can never forget anything.
The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare – his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered.
His family destroyed, their killer’s identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can.
But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Memory Man will stay with you long after the turn of the final tick.
©2015 David Baldacci (P)2015 Hachette Audio


Amos Decker’s life has changed in two profound ways. The first was when he suffered a devastating hit on his first play as a professional football player. The helmet to helmet hit nearly killed him twice and left him with some long lasting effects. Decker now has both hyperthymesia and synesthesia. In English that means that everything that has happened to him since the hit he’s able to recall with perfect clarity and that he can see things in color where color is not intended, such as seeing his family as blue.
The second major event that changed Decker’s life is when he returned home from a stakeout to find his wife, daughter and brother-in-law murdered. This event triggers a down-slide that lands Decker homeless and taking on any private investigatory work he can get to make ends meet.
After a period of 16 months, a man turns himself in and confesses to killing Decker’s family. At almost that exact same time, a school shooting leaves several students and three adults dead. As time passes, clues are revealed that prove that the two crimes are linked and that someone is trying to send a message to Amos Decker. What is their end goal? It is to make Decker suffer before ultimately killing him.
With the help of his former partner on the police force, a local reporter and an FBI agent, Decker struggles to put all of the clues together. The clues point to something from Decker’s past. It is something that Decker can’t quite recall, despite the fact that he has perfect memory of that time in his life.
‘Memory Man’ introduces us to a wide range of characters. Some of them or horrible but also tragic, while others are just plain loathsome. This is a story that is driven by character and motivation, not car chases and gunshots. It is hard not to feel for one of the book’s antagonists even as they commit horrific crimes. Life never did hand them a fair break.
Eventually it all comes together and leads to a highly enjoyable climax. It is the same type of satisfaction that someone might feel after they finally put together a particularly difficult puzzle.


I can only compare ‘Memory Man’ to the other David Baldacci series that I have read, which features the character of John Puller. Thankfully, there are some differences. ‘Memory Man’ moves along at a more methodical pace. It is more about discovery and investigation than it is about action. When John Puller is managing to avoid being blown up or shot at, Amos Decker is rewinding a surveillance tape to focus on how someone exits a vehicle. Yes, that happens in ‘Memory Man’, and is important in furthering the story.
The more deliberate pace does serve well when it is time to get to the climax. Yet even that is more about the dialog than it is the action.


As usual both McLarty and Cassidy do a fine job. Although, I wish that Cassidy would use some of her considerable talent for different voices to give more distinction to a few characters. She uses essentially the same voice for Mary Lancaster that she does for Alexandra Jameson, which is a little hard to follow when they are conversing with one another.
However, that minor point aside, both of them did a terrific job when it came to the book’s climactic events. Cassidy’s antagonist is cold and detached and more than a little creepy. McLarty’s dialog is delivered with real force and passion, and even some anger which is exactly what was called for in my opinion.


The track has some nice mood setting music that plays at key moments of discovery and drama. As the final chapter is set at Christmas Eve, the song to close that chapter is a Christmas tune. It is up to you to decide if that’s a nice touch or not.
There was exactly one sound effect used, and it was that of a gunshot towards the end of the book. I never can predict if a Hachette release will make heavy or light use of sound effects, and that’s fine because ultimately I am not in the camp that is strongly in favor of them nor am I in the camp that is opposed to them.


Amos Decker is a truly interesting and three dimensional character. He is someone who does not always interact well with others and because of his hyperthymesia, he is unable to put his past mistakes behind him. Any regret he has over his actions in ‘Memory Man’ can instantly be called back to him, which will make him that much more interesting going forward. I eagerly await Baldacci’s next trip into the world of Amos Decker.


Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
Memory Man: Amos Decker, Book 1 David Baldacci Ron McLarty, Orlagh Cassidy Hachette Audio Mystery & Thriller 04/21/2015 13 hours, 17 minutes 8.5/10


A copy of ‘MEMORY MAN’ was purchased from Audible for review.


  • Memory Man: Amos Decker, book 1