Aloysius Archer, the straight-talking World War II veteran fresh out of prison, returns in this riveting #1 New York Times bestselling thriller from David Baldacci.
The 1950s are on the horizon, and Archer is in dire need of a fresh start after a nearly fatal detour in Poca City. So Archer hops on a bus and begins the long journey out west to California, where rumor has it there is money to be made if you’re hard-working, lucky, criminal—or all three.
Along the way, Archer stops in Reno, where a stroke of fortune delivers him a wad of cash and an eye-popping blood-red 1939 Delahaye convertible—plus a companion for the final leg of the journey, an aspiring actress named Liberty Callahan who is planning to try her luck in Hollywood. But when the two arrive in Bay Town, California, Archer quickly discovers that the hordes of people who flocked there seeking fame and fortune landed in a false paradise that instead caters to their worst addictions and fears.
Archer’s first stop is a P.I. office where he is hoping to apprentice with a legendary private eye and former FBI agent named Willie Dash. He lands the job, and immediately finds himself in the thick of a potential scandal: a blackmail case involving a wealthy well-connected politician running for mayor that soon spins into something even more sinister. As bodies begin falling, Archer and Dash must infiltrate the world of brothels, gambling dens, drug operations, and long-hidden secrets, descending into the rotten bones of a corrupt town that is selling itself as the promised land—but might actually be the road to perdition, and Archer’s final resting place.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
There’s something irresistible about the high style and dark seediness of a classic California noir. The year is 1949, and World War II vet Aloysius Archer finds himself smack in the middle of West coast drama after he takes a job working for an FBI agent turned PI. Their first case leads them straight into a dark plot involving newly built casinos, a glamorous starlet with a secret past, and a web of political blackmail. David Baldacci’s tightly woven plot and witty, rapid-fire dialogue is amusing and gripping. We appreciate how Archer’s no-nonsense, highly principled worldview provides a great contrast to the abject chaos that seems to erupt around him at every moment. Baldacci’s modern updating of the classic hardboiled detective hero makes A Gambling Man a cool, suspenseful, and entertaining read.
After a contrivance-filled opening, bestseller Baldacci's entertaining sequel to 2019's One Good Deed finishes strong. In 1949, WWII veteran and ex-con Aloysius Archer is headed for Bay Town, Calif., where he hopes to get a job with a PI firm, when he decides to stop in Reno, Nev. After refusing a stranger's request to protect the man from his enemies, Archer wins big at roulette and befriends Liberty Callahan, a caf dancer who hopes to become a Hollywood star. When Archer and Callahan stumble on three thugs assaulting the man in need of protection, Callahan shows off her firearms skill. Archer and Callahan decide to travel together, but more violence ensues before the pair reach Bay Town. There, Archer is hired by the PI firm, which has been retained by a mayoral candidate to thwart a blackmailer threatening to expose his extramarital affair. Multiple murders follow. Baldacci provides a nicely twisted motive for the homicides, though the prose can be purple ("Smoke curled off the end of the cigarillo and lifted to the sky like a fragment of a memory gone to Heaven"). Fans of classic L.A. noir will be satisfied.
Old time style
Fun fun read! I was born in 1946 and remember my parents talking about the film stars of those years and no TV etc. Baldacci must have had a lot of fun getting all the period stuff correct so I could really put myself into that time zone as a reader. Love the characters as well. Gosh, a character who seemingly can’t be corrupted, how refreshing.
I really wanted to like it but I feel like Baldacci has fallen off. Enjoyed the characters but the story became trite, campy, and a bit implausible. Glad to be finished.
Very sub par for Baldacci
I’ve read most of Mr. Baldacci’s books, but recently it seems like he is just mailing it in. I didn’t even finish half of the book. Finished the first 200 pages and nothing really happened. Pages and pages go by and there is no action, no dialogue, just very poor attempts at descriptive writing. Not sure I’ll pick up any of his books anytime soon.