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Walk the Wire


Walk the Wire

Hal Parker was hunting his prey in the middle of the night --- a wolf that had taken down a couple of cows on his employer's property. He knows the wolf has to be near because he is following the droplets of blood from the chest wound he delivered with his rifle. Parker is suddenly sidetracked when he comes across the nude body of a woman who is obviously dead. As he looks closer, he sees that she has been butchered and gutted, the flesh of her face torn off and hanging from her chin. The usually staunch Parker doubles over and retches before calling the corpse in.

Assigned to the case are FBI agents Amos Decker and Alex Jamison, who head off to London, North Dakota. Decker, aka “Memory Man,” is one of the most unique protagonists in thriller fiction. He was a college football star who eventually joined the Cleveland Browns. Unfortunately, his NFL career lasted only one play. On a kickoff, he was hit hard enough to be put in a coma. Waking up a few days later in a hospital was the beginning of some serious changes in Decker's life. He would never play football again, and the hit to his head brought about two unusual conditions --- hyperthymesia, or perfect recall, and synesthesia, which means that his sensory pathways have commingled. The latter makes him see objects and numbers as colors. Most notably, every time he is near a dead body, he sees the color blue.

"WALK THE WIRE may be the finest entry in David Baldacci’s Memory Man series. The quality of his writing is at an all-time peak, and, fortunately for his countless fans, he is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon."

Decker suffered another tragedy with the brutal murder of his wife and child by an individual he dealt with in a prior novel. Now, as an FBI agent, he brings a very unique skill set to every case and speaks in a direct, often filterless manner that makes dealing with him frustrating at times. The good news is that Jamison has his back. They will need every ounce of their collective investigative skills as this is by far the most dangerous and confounding case they have ever been a part of.

The dead woman, Irene Cramer, led an interesting life in London, North Dakota, and one of great dichotomy. By day, she was a schoolteacher for the large religious sect that operated on the site of a former secret government base, while at night she allegedly was a prostitute. Decker and Jamison must look at the total picture to find out why she was murdered by someone with apparent surgical expertise and what the motive was for ending her life so brutally. Decker is a no-nonsense investigator who does not believe in coincidences. That may change, though, as he bumps into Stan Baker, his brother-in-law, at the hotel they are staying at. It turns out that Baker will be Decker's ex-brother-in-law soon and has moved from California to North Dakota because of all the fracking jobs currently available there. This form of drilling for natural resources to be used for energy has become a popular, albeit controversial, activity.

In addition to fracking and the local communal religious sect, London is the home of highly confidential military operations and has been for many decades. The London Air Force Station turns out to be an “eye in the sky” operation monitoring potential nuclear attacks. Decker’s and Jamison's heads start spinning as all of these different operations are converging in a town neither of them had ever heard of before being sent there. The question remains: Which one of these areas did Irene's killer come from? Decker insists on seeing her corpse at the local funeral home that doubles as a coroner’s office. He finds evidence that something was cut out of her stomach, indicating that she may have ingested an object that the killer didn’t want to be discovered during an autopsy.

They learn that Parker worked for Hugh Dawson, one of the richest men in town. How ironic it is that another non-coincidence rears its ugly head when a dead woman --- a local waitress who was also dressed to look like a prostitute --- is found in Parker's shed. To make matters even more baffling, Parker has disappeared. One night, after having a beer with his former brother-in-law, Decker gets knocked down in an alleyway while walking back to his car. This is a life-saving deed as someone took aim at him. Baldacci fans will rejoice when it is revealed who saved the day.

Meanwhile, the body count continues to climb. Decker and Jamison are in way over their heads and completely losing control of the situation. Readers will feel the frustration leaping out of every successive page, and this feeling does not stop until the dynamic climax, which eventually ties up most of these loose ends. Just take that ride with them down the rabbit hole and be ready for anything.

WALK THE WIRE may be the finest entry in David Baldacci’s Memory Man series. The quality of his writing is at an all-time peak, and, fortunately for his countless fans, he is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on April 24, 2020

Walk the Wire
by David Baldacci

  • Publication Date: October 6, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1538761475
  • ISBN-13: 9781538761472