Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recovering from Abuse, Deadly Risk-Taking and Revenge!, 27 Jun 2004
This review is from: Last Man Standing (Paperback)
Caution: The Last Man Standing is not for the squeamish or those who have nightmares about what they read. The book has many scenes of extreme violence and mayhem aimed at good guys and bad. The book's language is also laced with virtually every common swear word that you know.
What differentiates Last Man Standing from the standard shoot-em-up thriller is that Mr. Baldacci explores the mind as much as he does the physical. Providing that context makes the book more intense, meaningful, and complex.
The book's hero, Web London, is also someone you will find interesting and admirable. At his job as a Hostage Rescue Team assaulter for the FBI, he is bold, brave, and extremely capable. But, it has come with a price. He has an unattractively reconstructed face from wounds that makes him seem like Frankenstein to some, a body covered with bullet scars, and no family life. As you will learn in the book, he also had a trouble childhood that makes personal connection seem risky to him.
So, his fellow team members and their families have become his family. Imagine, then, the blow that comes when the six other assaulters are all mown down by machine gun fire during a raid on what was thought to be a drug organization's accounting operation. What makes it worse is that he froze at the start of the assault, or he would be dead with them. Imagine the guilt! To make matters worse, he is suspected of either being a coward or having been paid off. Life gets worse.
It becomes apparent that someone has been leaking confidential FBI information, or this slaughter could not have occurred. Who is it? Why would they want to wipe out a hostage rescue team? How was it accomplished? These are just some of the many mysteries that are brought forth. Soon, others are dying in a pattern that seem to tie back to the escape of Ernest B. Free (leader of the Free Society) from prison. Free had been the cause of the crisis that had led to the death of a little boy hostage in the assault that had cost Web London his face.
Mr. Baldacci has a strength as a story-teller in that he saves up lots of revelations for you, and deals them out frequently . . . like discount tickets to return to a theme park. This quality first becomes clear at page 99, so keep going in the beginning if you are wondering why people have liked this book. The surprises come more frequently after that. So you will want to keep turning the pages.
As the story evolves, Mr. Baldacci also provides the reader with information that the FBI doesn't have so that you can appreciate the conflict more as it develops. You will know who did what and why long before the end of the book, but the resolution of the conflict will be interesting enough that you will want to continue to the end.
The book's weakness is that the writing could have been tightened up quite a bit. There are about 200 pages of extra material in this book that should have been edited out. One of the problems of becoming a best-selling author is that you get too much power over the editors, and the amount of editing declines. With proper editing, this book could have been one of the top thrillers of all time. Without the editing, a clever concept, interesting hero, and entertaining story are allowed to clank along awkwardly for long sections where neither character nor story development occur. Mr. Baldacci, less is sometimes more . . . especially in writing!
Why do you do the work that you do? What kind of family life do you want to have? If things aren't the way you would like them in your work or family life, why aren't you changing them?
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