I used to think it would be great to have perfect memory, but after reading this book, have concluded that sometimes forgetting some things would be better. The main character of the novel, Amos Decker, has had perfect recall ever since a football injury during high school. Years later, his wife and daughter are brutally killed in their own home, leaving Amos feeling suicidal. Then someone goes through the town’s high school, killing students and several staff members. In each situation, the killer manages to flee the scene without a trace, other than a message for Amos. Who would want to kill his family, or the students at school? Amos searches his memory for a possible motive, but can find none. He works with the police department and FBI to locate the killer.
Normally crime stories would not be my choice for reading material, but I was drawn in by the main character, and his tortured life. Here is an excerpt from the book where Amos tries to describe what is wrong with him:
“I am Amos Decker. I’m forty-two years old and look at least ten years older (on a good day, of which I haven’t had one in four hundred and seventy-nine days), and feel at least a century older than that. I used to be a cop and then a detective but am no longer gainfully employed in either occupation. I have hyperthymesia, which means I never forget anything. I’m not talking about memory techniques where you can teach yourself to remember things better, like the order of a pack of cards using association tricks. No, with me it’s just a turbocharged brain that has somehow unlocked what we all have but never use. There aren’t many hyper-Ts – my shorthand – in the world. But I’m officially one of them.
“And it seems my sensory pathways have also crossed streams so that I count in colors and see time as pictures in my head. In fact, colors intrude on my thoughts at the most random times. We’re called synesthetes. So I count in color and I “see” time and sometimes I also associate color with people or objects.
“Many people with synesthesia are also autistic or have Asperger’s syndrome. Not me. But I no longer like to be touched. And jokes don’t really register with me anymore. But that may be because I don’t ever intend to laugh again. I was once normal, or as close as humans get to that state. And now I’m not.” (end of excerpt)
There are many twists and turns in the story as Amos follows up on possible leads. Every angle is explored in the attempt to find the truth. In the end, the answer of who the killer is, and what the motive is, are answered. Those who enjoy reading who-done-it mysteries will definitely want to check out this book.