After two decades in a Texas prison, Melvin Mars is about to be executed for the murder of his white father and black mother. He hears people approaching his cell and assumes they are his escorts to the death chamber. The door opens, and one of them intones: "Your execution has been called off." A death-row inmate in Alabama has confessed to the crime.
So begins "The Last Mile," David Baldacci's latest — and utterly absorbing — novel.
Amos Decker, a former police detective in Ohio who made his debut in Baldacci's 2015 novel, "Memory Man," hears this amazing story on the radio and is intrigued. His wife, daughter and brother-in-law were also murdered. And Mars isn't a total stranger. Decker played college football against him in a nationally televised game.
Decker, now a member of the FBI's new and unconventional investigative team, is in a good position to find out if there was miscarriage of justice in the Mars case. He peels off the layers of deception and uncovers a horrific crime hidden behind the killing of Mars' parents.
In the best Baldacci tradition, the action is fast and furious. But "The Last Mile" is more than a good action thriller. It sheds light on racism, a father-son relationship and capital punishment.
Both Mars and Decker are substantive, solid characters. Although their football dreams were shattered in their youth by their respective tragedies, they hold their heads high and forge ahead.
Entertaining and enlightening, "The Last Mile" is a rich novel that has much to offer.