Last Man Standing
David Baldacci
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Buy *Last Man Standing* online

Last Man Standing
David Baldacci
464 pages
August 2002
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Acclaimed author David Baldacci's latest thriller, aptly named Last Man Standing, is the story of one man, a special FBI agent by the name of Web London, who returns from the jaws of death only to find himself an outcast, a pariah amongst his very own people.

Web London is a part of the highly specialized and elite Hostage Rescue Team. On a very treacherous but routine mission in a hazardous part of D.C., he and his team charges down a blind alley towards a building which, according to an FBI undercover operative, is supposed to be the headquarters of a drug lord. But upon reaching the building they are greeted by a blitz of armour-piercing bullets from a high-tech setup of automated machineguns. For some baffling reason, Web freezes just before the bullet bombardment starts and falls paralyzed to the ground, watching helplessly as his friends and unit members meet grisly deaths.

A stunned and heartbroken Web walks away almost unhurt from the scene of the carnage, only to find himself the center of a raging controversy as friends look at him with suspicion, widows blame him for being alive, colleagues no longer trust him and the authorities are out to crucify him. Under intense pressure, Web seeks the help of psychiatrist Claire Daniels. He has only thing on his mind and that is to find why he, and only he, survived that deadly trap. With Claire’s help, he starts to investigate his own traumatic past and repressed memories to find a clue to his mystifying paralysis. Along with another mistrustful colleague, he starts his own investigation into the events leading to the trap, which takes him from the seedy underworld of drugs and recreation pills to the rolling hills of Virginia horse country. And all the while people keep dying around him. What does a ten-year old boy have to do with it? How does a stud farm figure into this equation? Is it all part of some big conspiracy?

This latest adventurous mystery by David Baldacci has everything in it – chills, spills, high-speed chases, commando action, kidnapping, hypnotism, drugs, fighting and what not. The fast pace is good, but tends to slow down whenever Web starts thinking and analyzing in circles. His personal conflicts are explored as is his troubled psyche, using hypnotism, which itself is fascinating to read about. There are many facets to this mystery, which is difficult to solve, and there are many red herrings. The build up of the suspense is fine, but the ending does not justify it -- it is highly clichéd and decidedly artificial, more befitting a movie than a book.

Though good in its own way, Last Man Standing is not up to par with the consummate standard readers expect from the author of the utterly riveting Absolute Power.

© 2002 by Rashmi Srinivas for Curled Up With a Good Book

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