Friday, March 29, 2013

The Last Good Man by A.J. Kazinski

In The Last Good Man, disgraced policeman Tommaso di Barbera in Venice, has discovered that righteous people, those who are known for their good deeds, are dying all over the world. Each of the bodies has the same mysterious mark. In Copenhagen, Niels Bentzon is also investigating, but he and Barbera don't speak the language. Communicating and passing information is difficult at best. With the help of Hannah Lund, an astrophysicist, a pattern emerges and if she's correct, someone is out to kill the 36 righteous people who, according to the Talmud, protect all of the other people on the Earth. From this pattern they can determine the time and location of the next death. It's up to them to save the last good man.

I loved this book. Although it was over 500 pages, it didn't feel like that at all. The author's use of short chapters and multiple storylines made the story suspenseful and fast-paced. At times I felt breathless just trying to keep up. The whole story was so well thought that there wasn't one dull minute.

The story is translated from Danish. I sometimes worry that translated books, especially ones from faraway places won't be accessible. However, with this one I couldn't have been more wrong. It was awesome!!

The storyline was intriguing. I've heard a little about the Talmud, but nothing at all about the 36 righteous people, who keep the rest of us safe. I thought that it was extremely interesting. To read a little more about the 36 righteous people mentioned in the Talmud, see this Wikipedia entry for Tzadikim Nistarim. The out-of-body experience in the book was also intriguing. Because it was presented as a scientific study, it came across as believable.

The miscommunication or lack of understanding between Bentzon and Barbera added another dimension to the story. Because Bentzon was afraid to fly and unable to travel very far put him in a unique position that the author was able to capitalize on later in the story. I loved Hannah and what she brought to the story. Her expertise in math and science was fascinating. There's one diagram in the book that was supposedly drawn by Hannah. It looked hand drawn which added to its authenticity, but the size made it hard to make out and read. Perhaps if it were larger, it would have been easier to see.

The one weak point in the whole book was the ending. It was exciting and suspenseful until the very end, but the "solution" fell flat. Perhaps it was just too simple for an involved lengthy story like this. It didn't ruin the book for me, I just wish it had ended a little differently.

A.J. Kazinski is a pseudonym of Anders R√łnnow Klarlund and Jacob Weinreich. This is their first collaboration. This book was translated from the Danish by Tiina Nunnally.

Highly recommended. I hope these guys write more books.

For more information about this book, please visit Simon & Schuster's UK website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Simon & Schuster UK for this review copy.

The Last Good Man by A.J. Kazinski, Simon & Schuster UK ©2012. ISBN 9780857205803(Trade paperback), 522p.

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