Book Review: Memory Man by David Baldacci

I don’t even know where to begin with this one… I liked the concept behind “Memory Man” — while not incredibly inventive, having a character who “remembers everything” opens up a world of opportunities.

baldacciUnfortunately, this book fell into the maligned “Tell, Don’t Show” category of writing, with our lead character CONSTANTLY reminding us he can remember everything (because we obviously can’t) and telling us what an incredible burden that is, but never actually using his talent in a way that furthers the plot. Seriously, there were so many holes in this thing when you take into account the supposed ability of the protagonist that it was like drinking from a strainer.

Add to this the fact that EVERY character was a cardboard cut out cliche and I was pretty much cringing every other page or so…

– The young journalist who is reporting because she seeks the truth and aspires to a Pulitzer?
– The jaded retired cop who’s actually better than every other “real” cop on the force?
– The “partner” who plays second fiddle to the brighter detective who constantly cracks the case?
– The “hard-nosed” chief who then invites the determined reporter to join them on the case “to get a fresh perspective on things?”

Even the villains were boring, with clues planted that made this less of a mystery and more of a “finally the characters are catching up to us” type of read. And the motives behind everything? Let’s just say in a world where everything is underwhelming, the author went to extreme efforts to not disrupt that flow. What surprised me the most is that this is a fairly new book — I kept having to check when it was published as it felt like something that should have been written twenty years ago.

Ultimately, these types of traditionally published “paint-by-the-number” thrillers are what get me excited about the state of independent / hybrid publishing, where authors aren’t afraid to break the rules and publishing houses seek after those stories that are different. If this hadn’t been the only book available on my Audible account during a week in which I was travelling, this would have been added to the pile of DNF.

My first go with a Baldacci novel will also be my last.

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