Dream Town (Aloysius Archer #3), by David Baldacci

Eight stars

David Baldacci is back with another Aloysius Archer story that pulls the reader back to the early 1950s. A true gumshoe story that keeps the reader engaged and provides an entertaining tale of times when detective work was much simpler. Baldacci shows his versatility with this series, which is outside his usual style. Great narrative and strong plot makes for another successful addition to this series. Baldacci is on fire and shows no signs of fading.

As the clock ticks down towards 1953, Aloysius Archer makes his way to Los Angeles, where his friend, Liberty Callahan, awaits him. While they are getting comfortable and prepping for a lovely evening, one of Liberty’s acquaintances, Eleanor Lamb, calls to seek Archer’s assistance. While he hoped to have some quiet time, Archer won’t turn down detective work that may help bring in a little extra money.

A number of mysterious and creepy events have taken place, leaving Eleanor feeling as though she is being targeted. She wants to hire Archer to look into the matter as soon as possible. Sure there is more to the story, Archer reluctantly agrees to poke around, making plans to come by her home the following day. When he does, Eleanor is nowhere to be found, but there’s a body in the house, leaving Archer to wonder if she might have been responsible.

Archer wants nothing more than to solve this murder and brings Callahan on side to assist, as well as his partner, Willie Dash. As they investigate, things send Archer back to Vegas, where he has had some dust-ups in years past. Archer learns a little more about Lamb and her past, which includes rubbing elbows with some of the darker characters in town. When the investigation sends him to Hollywood, Archer is convinced he has a lead that could prove fruitful, all while Eleanor Lamb remains missing. Could someone have dealt with her as they did the body that started all this? Baldacci spins a tale that is both entertaining and captivating in equal measure.

In my two decades reading Baldacci novels, I have rarely been left feeling underwhelmed. Baldacci is just too great a story teller, no matter the topic or genre he presents. This is another example of that versatility, as he pens a story that is pulled right out of the gumshoe era, which differs greatly from many of his other series. There is so much going on and yet the reader can slide into a level of comfort easily, leaving them ready to learn more with every page turn.

Aloysius Archer has been a great character since he was first introduced. His backstory is always coming up, but it is the great character development that keeps the reader enthralled. The reader learns a little more about his interest in both detective work and as certain lucky lady, both of which come to a head by the closing chapters of this book. Archer remains down to earth and ready to impress, asking the right questions and yet always finding ways to get into just enough trouble to prove worrisome. I am eager to see where things are headed for him and how Baldacci will continue to shape Archer’s character in the years to come.

Many authors seem able to perfect a genre and work within it, even if they create a few series to keep readers entertained. Baldacci has done this and more, churning out great novels in a variety of sub-genres, all of which are of the highest caliber. I have loved many of them and contusion use to hope for more. This book has a strong narrative that left me feeling the pulse of the story from the opening pages. The plot advances effectively and finds ways of keeping me on my toes throughout, which can sometimes be a daunting task. Set seven decades i nthe past, there will always be interesting characters with which to contend and Baldacci finds ways of keeping them interesting until the very end. I see a number of loose ends left blowing in the wind and can only hope that Baldacci will address them before long, as my curiosity needs some sort of answer. While there is little chance Aloysius will have any crossovers with characters in Baldacci’s other series, I see a lot of great possible interactions as the series progresses.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for this wonderful throwback piece. Keep them coming, as they offer a great contrast to much of what is in the genre nowadays.