Last Man Standing

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Web London leads his FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) on a mission to raid the money center of a major drug operation, but finds the enemy waiting fully armed with remote electronic weapons. As the barrage of machine gun fire ensues, London freezes, falls to the ground, and is left as the only survivor of the elite HRT unit. A ten- year-old boy, the only witness to the ambush, mysteriously disappears. London is burdened with feelings of guilt, considering himself a coward who has let his compatriots and their families down.

In a desperate attempt to rid himself of the lingering guilt, London begins his own investigation into who masterminded the ambush. A beautiful psychiatrist, Claire Daniels, helps him cope with his feelings, ascertain what really happened in the shootout, and determine the role that the boy witness, Kevin Westbrook, played in the slaughter. While searching for the culprits, London tracks down a string of evidence and a series of new murders to a horse farm in Virginia, where he finds the mastermind behind all the carnage. As the reader begins to infer what appears to be a predictable plot line, David Baldacci mixes in a few curves and twists that lead to a violent, rather surprising ending.

In general, Baldacci builds believable characters in this novel, but in many regards, they are almost too stereotyped, predictable, boring, and plastic-like. The first two-thirds of the book is fast paced and riveting, but the last third seems rushed and rather contrived, as a few seemingly disparate stories are strangely patched together to produce the surprise ending. Nevertheless, most fans of complex, action-packed thrillers will overlook these shortcomings and thoroughly enjoy Last Man Standing.