The second Archer novel proves David Baldacci masters the hardboiled detective genre. A Gambling Man is a trip back to the pulp fiction of the forties and fifties. It features the detective, the dame with great legs, a corrupt politician or rich guy, and enough murders to keep Aloysius Archer on his toes.

A Gambling Man is best read while listening to film noir music.

It is 1949. Archer is on his way to Bay Town where he will apprentice with veteran private eye Willie Dash. A few incidents before that involve a few shootings, meeting Liberty Callahan, and getting to Bay Town. To David Baldacci’s credit, Liberty Callahan is much more developped than your usual detective novel dame.

In Bay Town, Archer and Dash are hired to find out who is blackmailing mayoral candidate Douglas Kemper. This is even more intriguing since this is an emergency election after the previous mayor was found dead in his bathtub. Interested in the investigation is Kemper’s father-in-law Sawyer Armstrong. Armstrong is the prerequisite rich man who owns most of the town and its police force.

The plot in A Gambling Man is complex and features quite a few secondary and tertiary characters and story lines. David Baldacci is adroit enough with all these elements the reader never gets lost.

The reveal is typical hardboiled detective novel but it is not predictable in its complexities.

A Gambling Man is David Baldacci at his best

There is a great article on Wikipedia on the difference between the noir and hardboiled detective genres

A Gambling Man
An Archer Novel
David Baldacci
Grand Central Publishing 2021 438 pages

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