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Dream Town

by David Baldacci

Library Journal 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).

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Publishers Weekly 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.)

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Kirkus An old-fashioned gumshoe yarn about Hollywood dreams and dead bodies.Private investigator Aloysius Archer celebrates New Years 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. Im fifty a day plus expenses, he replies, but moneys no obstacle. Later, he sneaks into Lambs 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 doesnt 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. Hed 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 doesnt he get a safe job, maybe playing one of LAs finest on the hit TV show Dragnet? Instead, hes a tough and principled idealist who wants to make the world a better place. Either that or hes simply a pavement-pounding PI on a slow dance to maybe nowhere. And if some goon doesnt 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 mens loins. The 1950s werent the fabled good old days, but theyre 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. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus 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. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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