A Gambling Man by David Baldacci
Easy to read and packed with adventure, I always enjoy Baldacci’s stories. And A Gambling Man was no exception!
About A Gambling Man:
(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. Aloysius 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. 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.
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Set in the late 1940s, this novel has a strong sense of atmosphere. Right from the start, you get a very old-timey, 1950s vibe. But what I really enjoyed about this book was Archer’s character.
This isn’t the first time we’ve met Aloysius Archer. A Gambling Man is the sequel to Baldacci’s novel, One Good Man. And while I haven’t read the first book, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the second. The story is set well in the first few chapters, and I felt like Archer’s history was well described.
Archer is a principled, straight shooter. He may be fresh from prison (and a very tough guy) but he’s also portrayed as really good. He’s quick to give credit where credit is due, help out those in need, and has high moral standards and respect for women. He’s not perfect, but he is a very likable character. It was a lot of fun following along with his journey to becoming a private investigator.
The book could be divided into two separate sections. In the first half, you have Archer meeting Liberty Callahan and their road-trip to California. Their developing friendship is interesting and their chemistry is sizzling. En route to Bay Town, there is a fair amount of action and adventure that takes place. However, it’s not until the second half of the story that Archer begins working as a detective. This is where the main plot takes off.
While the story isn’t necessarily fast-paced, it does have a complex and entertaining mystery. Well set, and with interesting and likable characters, A Gambling Man was 400 pages of entertainment!