Wednesday 20 February 2013

Book review : The Last Good Man - A.J. Kazinski

According to the Talmud, a collection of Jewish religious texts, one of the things that God said to Moses was that there are always thirty-six righteous people on earth who are there to protect us and that, without them, humanity would fail. These thirty-six people, however, have no idea that they are the chosen ones.

Someone seems to have worked out who they are though because across the globe, people have been meeting untimely deaths. The locations and circumstances are so random that nothing seems to link them, except that they are all kind-hearted people, doing good for humanity in various fields such as medicine, human rights, law or religion. Further investigation reveals that they all have a strange marking on their skin, possibly a burn, fungal infection or skin disorder that bizarrely resembles a number.

The only two people who seem to have the slightest inkling of what is going on are two disgraced cops - Tommaso di Barbera in Venice and Niels Bentzon in Copenhagen - along with Hannah Lund, a brilliant but traumatised astrophysicist picked up as an unlikely ally along the way. Even when they think they have worked out the pattern and can predict who will be killed next, nobody will listen to them, thinking it's a wild goose chase.

Although quite slow and long drawn out in the opening chapters, it ends up as a fast-paced thriller with a frantic race against time but also destiny, with the different characters unsure of who or what they are up against. There seems to be a higher power controlling things but is it good or evil and what is it trying to achieve?

The slight paranormal aspect, thrown in with philosophical musings on what defines goodness and whether or not God exists, adds a whole new level to the classic thriller. There are red herrings a go-go but I still managed to work out where the plot was going long before the end, although the final chapters still had me reading with bated breath to see what would happen.

The book doesn't really answer the questions it throws up - does God exist? do the righteous people exist? was it God or some evil force controlling things or was it just some sort of mass psychosis? - but the characters involved in the action are equally as in the dark as we are. It frequently reminded me of the Final Destination movies and the idea of trying to outwit fate.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £6.99

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (2 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857205803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857205803
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 3.6 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Book review : The Salome Effect - James Sajo

1 comment:

  1. What a great premise! I am intrigued at this point. I must get my hands this one and get it to the top of my tbr list! Thanks for the review, I suggest the one I am reading now, Blood Land by R.S. Guthrie as well, it is a really great novel from start to almost finish as I am not quite done yet! if anyone needs a good book to check out!


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