Bestseller Baldacci’s welcome third outing for PI Aloysius Archer (after 2021’s A Gambling Man) takes Archer, a decorated WWII vet who works for a detective agency in Bay Town, Calif., to Los Angeles to celebrate New Year’s Eve 1952 with actress and love interest Liberty Callahan. That evening, at a restaurant frequented by such stars as Frank Sinatra and Groucho Marx, Callahan introduces Archer to her friend Eleanor Lamb, a screenwriter working on a script for Bette Davis. After Lamb learns of Archer’s profession, she seeks to hire him because she’s gotten middle-of-the-night–hang-up calls, and someone entered her Malibu home and left a bloody knife in her kitchen sink. Lamb’s fears for her life seem justified when she disappears. Right after Archer finds an unknown man shot to death in her house, someone bludgeons the gumshoe into unconsciousness. The tension rises as his subsequent investigation places his own life in danger. Baldacci can be a bit overfond of similes and metaphors (ocean breakers hurl “their sound tentacles”), but otherwise solid prose nicely evokes the traditional hard-boiled whodunit. Raymond Chandler fans will be entertained. Agent: Aaron Priest, Aaron M. Priest Literary. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"One of [Baldacci's] finest books. Great character, great story, great portrait of an era."—Bill Clinton (praise for One Good Deed)
"David Baldacci is one of the all-time best thriller authors."—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"A master storyteller."—People
"Baldacci delivers, every time!"—Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author
"David Baldacci is a master storyteller."—Associated Press
Baldacci sends private investigator and ex-World War II veteran Aloysius Archer to Los Angeles—that is, Dream Town—for another dangerous case (one million copy first printing). Having crafted two Sam and Remi Fargo adventures with the late Cussler (Pirate and The Romanov Ransom), former California law enforcement officer Burcell takes the daring duo on another far-flung adventure in Clive Cussler's The Serpent's Eye (originally scheduled for Sept. 2021). In the New York Times best-selling Fisher's An Honest Lie, Rainy has been hiding out from her bad-news past atop a remote, fog-cloaked mountain but decides to risk a trip to Las Vegas with some friends, where one of them is trapped by a killer as bait to lure Rainy (10,000-copy hardcover and 200,000-copy paperback first printing). One Crimson Summer, thanks to mega-best-selling Graham, Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent Amy Larson is sent a toy red horse—a sign that she and FBI agent Hunter Forrest didn't wipe out the Doomsday cult that's about to fight a bloody turf war in northern Florida with several South American cartels (75,000-copy first printing). In best-selling Secrets of Midwives author Hepworth's latest, Tully and Rachel have every reason to resent The Younger Wife who's coming on the scene; their father is still married to their mother, now in a care facility for dementia, but plans to divorce her—which leads to the spilling of numerous toxic secrets (250,000-copy first printing). In the latest from the New York Times best-selling Pinborough, has-it-all heroine Emma Averell is beginning to suffer from Insomnia, which she fears may presage a descent into the insanity that destroyed her own mother's life (75,000-copy first printing). In the best-selling, award-winning Reich's Once a Thief, Simon Riske must prove that the Ferrari he's restored and sold for nine figures is not a fake, which brings him in contact with Anna Bildt, whose Swiss banker father has been blown up by a car bomb (75,000-copy first printing). In Rollins's Kingdom of Bones, postponed from March and September 2021, humans have become dullards while flora and fauna are suddenly ascendant; perhaps evolutionary forces have spun out of control, but it could be some fiendish plan (250,000-copy first printing). Letty Davenport, the smart, stubborn daughter of Sandford standby Lucas Davenport, becomes The Investigator, sent by her U.S. senator boss to figure out who's profiting from the theft of Texas crude oil—and why.
An old-fashioned gumshoe yarn about Hollywood dreams and dead bodies.
Private investigator Aloysius Archer celebrates New Year’s Eve 1952 in LA with his gorgeous lady friend and aspiring actress Liberty Callahan. Screenwriter Eleanor Lamb shows up and offers to hire him because “someone might be trying to kill me.” “I’m fifty a day plus expenses,” he replies, but money’s no obstacle. Later, he sneaks into Lamb’s house and stumbles upon a body, then gets knocked out by an unseen assailant. Archer takes plenty of physical abuse in the story, but at least he doesn’t get a bullet between the eyes like the guy he trips over. A 30-year-old World War II combat veteran, Archer is a righteous and brave hero. Luck and grit keep him alive in both Vegas and the City of Angels, which is rife with gangsters and crooked cops. Not rich at all, his one luxury is the blood-red 1939 Delahaye he likes to drive with the top down. He’d bought it with his gambling winnings in Reno, and only a bullet hole in the windscreen post mars its perfection. Liberty loves Archer, but will she put up with the daily danger of losing him? Why doesn’t he get a safe job, maybe playing one of LA’s finest on the hit TV show Dragnet? Instead, he’s a tough and principled idealist who wants to make the world a better place. Either that or he’s simply a “pavement-pounding PI on a slow dance to maybe nowhere.” And if some goon doesn’t do him in sooner, his Lucky Strikes will probably do him in later. Baldacci paints a vivid picture of the not-so-distant era when everybody smoked, Joe McCarthy hunted commies, and Marilyn Monroe stirred men’s loins. The 1950s weren’t the fabled good old days, but they’re fodder for gritty crime stories of high ideals and lowlifes, of longing and disappointment, and all the trouble a PI can handle.
Well-done crime fiction. Baldacci nails the noir.