A GAMBLING MAN by David Baldacci

An Archer Novel, Book 2

From the publisher:

Aloysius Archer, the straight-talking World War II veteran fresh out of prison, returns in this riveting new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author 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.


David Baldacci is one of the top authors in today’s literary world. His writings encompass a myriad of plots and protagonists. The current novel has all the earmarks of the Dashiell Hammett days when his character Sam Spade born in the classic, “The Maltese Falcon,” became the model for the tough as nails private detective which became a norm for the genre. Looks like Baldacci is entering into this field with the second book featuring Aloysius Archer. 

This novel is apparently a means of setting Archer up a position as a private detective in a firm doing business in Bay Town California. Archer is a veteran of World War II, just four years in the past of the time of this book and having spent some time in prison along the way.     

Archer has corresponded with a private detective working in Bay Town who has indicated he would be willing to talk to him and see if something can be worked out in terms of a job.  Traveling west Archer makes a stop in Reno where he picks up some cash, an exclusive auto and a beautiful young lady who hitches a ride with him in order to try her luck in finding a job as an actress in Hollywood. Arriving in Bay Town, Archer meets the private eye he has set out to talk to: an ex FBI agent: Willie Dash. No surprise that Archer is started working a case as a trial and Liberty Callahan, the girl that hitched a ride with him, is found to be a very talented performer quickly getting a job in Bay Town as well.      

The case Archer is brought into proves to be one affecting the entire area with all sorts of chicanery going on. The ending is no surprise nor is the fact that future Archer novels are in the works. I freely admit that I look forward to anything that David Baldacci writes and will pick them up and devour them. If it is the next Archer book, I won’t quibble if another emanating from his mind comes in before Archer’s reappearance. I’ll read that first and recommend it to the large group that I know is with me in seeking out Baldacci’s works.

4/2021 Paul Lane

A GAMBLING MAN by David Baldacci. Grand Central Publishing (April 20, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538719671. 448 pages.

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