Just who is he anyway ?

This book has the most amazing beginning. It thrusts you immediately into the action and it is pretty non-stop from there onwards. The Final Minute by Simon Kernick is a crime novel/thriller. Its main character is a man living with his sister in an isolated property and having regular therapy to restore his amnesia after a car crash. The problem is that he’s beginning to think that he’s being drugged, that the therapy isn’t helping and that his sister may not be his sister. One day he runs off to think and when he returns he finds the two people he has shared the house with tortured to death and two very shady characters awaiting his return and asking him only one question “Where are the bodies ?”.

Matt, which he thinks is his name, has only hazy recollections of his life before the accident. He has dreams of a woman who he thinks is dead and who he fears that he may have killed. He is frightened about his abilities to evade and to lie. He finds an article in a paper about a missing woman who he thinks that he recognises and he contacts the private detective leading the hunt – when she sees him she recognises him instantly. It appears that he is not as nice as the thinks he is.

I have blogged many times about how tired I am of books where characters have amnesia. It is rarely done well (except perhaps in The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum and Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson). In this case I think the amnesia bit works well and is an integral part of the story but I still don’t want to see it used more often.

I think it would always be difficult for the author to make the whole book as exciting as the beginning but he gives it a good go and the book is full of action. The private detective Tina Boyd is the subject of other books by this author and the narrative slowly moves towards her, although not exclusively so. Matt finds that his real identity hasn’t always been particularly law abiding but he also finds that he gets a thrill out of this action life but some of what he ends up doing isn’t particularly acceptable and he continually risks alienating Tina. Tina also seeks action and excitement in her life but has to balance what she does against what the law requires and also what she can afford. When the whole story is unravelled you realise that “Matt’s” involvement originates from an accusation made about him a long time in the past which has determined most of his recent life. It’s an interesting point and typical of a book that is slightly deeper and more thoughtful than a full-on action thriller.

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