I’m loving the Archer series, with the third entry confirming that David Baldacci has successfully nailed the hard boiled detective genre. When visiting his friend and aspiring star Liberty Callahan on New Years Eve 1953, Archer is drawn into a case when Liberty’s friend, Ellie Lamb runs into them at dinner. Ellie is afraid someone is trying to kill her and Archer agrees to meet her the next morning to get a check and the details. That doesn’t happen. (of course). Now, Elsie is missing. Baldacci weaves every convention into Archer and his investigations: Stumbling across bodies, constantly an inch away from being killed, dogged, logical witness interviews, checking out various scenes until the penny drops, making stupid mistakes, having a total heart of gold and more. The various characters include bigwigs in Hollywood, aspiring bigwigs, people with a lot of money, people with more money, a very scary mobster running a scandalous, dangerous business, a cameo appearance by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and more. I get a kick out of the characters who add detail to a story, the loyal receptionist Audrey, giving up nothing; the loyal greeter at a den of inequity whose response to every question is to repeatedly direct Archer to the bar. And while there is a familiarity to the description of LA and Vegas in the early 50s, Baldacci truly brings a freshness to it and I can’t figure out quite how he did that.
I wish I could say more, but the plot is great and the details are too much fun to ruin with hints of any kind. I’m a fan of several Baldacci series, but Archer is winning first place for me.