Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Last Good Man

by A. J. Kazinski
Scribner; Reprint edition (March 6, 2012)
480 pages - 16 $
Why this book

It was part of the books I purchased with my gift card (birthday) and of the authors that I do not know. I took this book 1) because the story seemed good and 2) because he was awarded the 2012 selection of readers.


In Jewish scripture, there is a legend: There are thirty-six righteous people on earth. The thirty-six protect us. Without them, humanity would perish. But the thirty-six do not know they are the chosen ones.

In Beijing, a monk collapses in his chamber, dead. A fiery mark—a tattoo? a burn?—spreads across his back and down his spine. In Mumbai, a beloved economist, a man who served the poor, dies suddenly. His corpse reveals the same symbol. Similar deaths are reported around the world—the victims all humanitarians, all with the same death mark. In Venice, an enterprising Italian policeman links the deaths, tracing the evidence. Who is killing good people around the world?

In Copenhagen, police are preparing for a world climate summit when they receive the Interpol alert. The task falls to veteran detective Niels Bentzon: Find the “good people” of Denmark and warn them. But Bentzon is a man who is trained to see the worst in humanity, not the good. One by one, people are crossed off his list. He senses their secrets and wrongdoings.

Just as Bentzon is ready to give up, he meets Hannah Lund, a brilliant astrophysicist mourning the death of her son and the implosion of her marriage. With Hannah’s help, Bentzon begins to piece together the puzzle of these far-flung deaths. A pattern emerges. It is, they realize, a perfectly executed plan of murder. There have been thirty-four deaths—two more to come if the legend is true. According to the pattern, Bentzon and Hannah can predict the time and place of the final two murders. The deaths will occur in Venice and Copenhagen. And the time is now.

What I think

Not much really! The plot is good, the idea interesting enough, the fact that they insert a religious plot (a bit like Da Vinci, it must be said) is promising - and I like thrillers that offer a share of mystical or religious  plot. So why not more excitement for this book? Because in my opinion, a good half of the book should not exist! The two authors - yes, there are two authors, provide detailed information to ALL information (really any info, even less useful). So we get lost in a lot of data however interesting by themselves (but hey, I'm not reading an essay, but a thriller!) It was not until halfway through the book that a little action happens (and I do love a bit of action in thriller) There is a subplot with an Arab terrorist who has no connection with the main plot, thus completely useless, but that takes a lot of pages (at the beginning), there is a subplot with an international event in Copenhagen and another one in Venice, but of no use, since at no time did we feel a danger on that side. And at the end of the book we still do not know why good men are killed (which sucks a bit in a polar, right?). As for the perpetrator, how to say: do not push granny in the nettles?

Regarding the characters, Tommaso di Barbara and Niels Bentzon are friendly, it's true, but really seem to have problems with interactions as dialogues are listless. As for the scientific part, it's too present: one awash in theories and explanations - to the point that I ended up skipping whole sections of chapters to try to find the plot and action again. In addition, the same information comes back regularly in the novel and with all explanations not needed. I think the most horrifying passage is the chapter where Hannah, the astrophysicist, returns to her place of work. The mention of the name of the creator of the institute (Niels Bohr) comes so often that I wondered at one point if the authors were trying to burn us his name in the head!

In a nutshell

No, I'm not particularly excited about this book I could not wait to finish! However, if you like religion, if you believe in God or if you like tons of detailed information, do not hesitate! For the others, some books featured on this blog will surely seduce you: try the archives or  list by author here. (For example, I read the first chapter of Never saw it coming from Lindwood Barclays and it's already very good !)

My thought on closing the book : Pfff the end is botched and too easy. A pity, it could have been so good!

I gave it 2/5. 

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