Large Print Reviews
Last Man Standing
By David Baldacci
Last Man Standing
Large Print Edition
By David Baldacci
Warner Books Large Print, (2001)
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - November 24, 2001
Last Man Standing is part police procedural, part psychological melodrama. Combined, Last Man Standing is a fasted paced thriller that follows one man's attempt to rid himself of his emotional demons while at the same time tracking down those responsible for the cold-blooded murder of six of his fellow Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) members. This is an interesting tale. It follows Web London as he investigates the mystery surrounding the ambush, and as he explores his own past and comes to term with the mental anguish that he suffered as a result of being the only man left standing when the shooting stopped.
London is a complex character. He is an FBI Special Agent who works in the elitist and highly competitive HRT. This group's vocation is responding to crisis situations, not all of which involve hostages. To join this elite group, London had to endure a grueling audition, and once accepted to undergo an even more grueling period of training. He emerged a confident and highly trained officer, who could handle just about anything - or so he thought. Before joining the FBI, London had gone to law school, but found working in a law office too boring. While most men only last five years in the HRT before they burned out, London, at the age of 38, had already lasted eight years.
As the book opens, Web London and the seven member HRT team that he belongs to, has been called in as part of a larger operation, to raid the money center of a major drug syndicate. As London and his team enter an alley, they are hit by a barrage of machine gun fire. When the shooting stops, London is the only member of his team left alive. London had been with the HRT for eight years, during which time he repeatedly proved his valor. Nonetheless, he now looks upon himself as a coward because he froze at a critical moment as his team approached the ambush. Yet, had he not frozen, he would not have to deal with the wretchedness of survivor's guilt, because he too would have died, along with the other members of his team.
In a desperate attempt to cleanse his soul and to prove his innocence, London begins his own, mirror investigation to discover who was behind the slaughter. At the same time, he struggles to rid himself of his mental demons by seeking the aid of Claire Daniels, a beautiful psychiatrist that he meets by chance. Daniels not only helps London come to terms with his guilt, but she also helps him to figure out what really happened that day, and what role 10-year-old Kevin Westbrook played in the ambush. London had first noticed Kevin as his team entered the alley, and the boy had said something that caused London to freeze. The boy disappeared soon after the massacre. But what had he said? Was it really important? Furthermore, did Kevin play a role in the massacre? Or is it mere coincidence that his brother, Big F, is a major drug dealer? Will finding Kevin, and the answers to these questions, help London to solve the puzzle that he has found himself trapped in? To further muddy the waters, demons from London's past keep popping up, complicating the investigation.
At first, Last Man Standing appears to be following a fairly straight forward and predictable plot line. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the author, David Baldacci, has tossed in a few devious plot twists that will surprise the reader. These plot twists lead the story to a violent and unpredictable end. The story is fast-paced, and gripping. Nevertheless, it does contain a lot of graphic violence and is therefore not suitable for all readers.
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