The Last Good Man
By A.J. Kazinski
Narrated by Simon Vance
Ⓟ 2012, HighBridge Audio
The “Tzadikim Nistarim” are the 36 hidden righteous people of the earth according to Jewish mystic tradition. None of the 36 people self-identify as being good or righteous, but their actions have the effect of being socially just or averting a greater humanitarian disaster. If all the Tzadikim Nistarim are eliminated, humanity is doomed. In 2009, a number of seemingly unrelated deaths span the globe, and one man – an Italian police detective named Tomasso di Barber in Venice, makes the connection: Someone is killing the righteous people of the world. And so begins this international thriller that races against the clock to identify and secure the eponymous man of the book.
The Last Good Man has all the makings of a great thriller: a touch of the occult, international settings, deadlines with dire consequences if not met, spiritual musings, flawed protagonists, and an elusive villain… and yet, it all falls a bit flat. The novel’s arc is robbed of tension with its schizophrenic quality: Is this going to be a police procedural set in Italy? Or is it going to be a Scandinavian crime thriller ? Is the whole of the novel supposed to be a sort of modern, metaphorical, Talmudic commentary? A.J. Kazinski seems to have mashed three novels into one, supplying the listener with an overabundance of detail and sub-plots (e.g. eighty cents, Skype sex, an Arab terrorist, an architect…) that do nothing to advance the story and worse, weaken the overall narrative until it collapses into a series of anti-climactic events.
Simon Vance is the British-American narrator who brings his BBC4 polish and credentials as a reader of international thrillers (e.g. The Millennium Trilogy – by Steig Larsson) to The Last Good Man. His reading is clear, the pace steady, pronunciations are consistent, all characters are delineated well and credibly… all the things that listeners have come to expect as de rigueur from a seasoned professional such as he.
OTHER: I dnloaded a digital copy of The Last Good Man (by A.J. Kazinski; narrated by Simon Vance) from downpour.com. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.