The number one New York Times best-selling author David Baldacci introduces an unforgettable new character: Archer, a straight-talking former World War II soldier fresh out of prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
It’s 1949. When war veteran Aloysius Archer is released from Carderock Prison, he is sent to Poca City on parole with a short list of do’s and a much longer list of don’ts: do report regularly to his parole officer, don’t go to bars, certainly don’t drink alcohol, do get a job – and don’t ever associate with loose women.
The small town quickly proves more complicated and dangerous than Archer’s years serving in the war or his time in jail. Within a single night, his search for gainful employment – and a stiff drink – leads him to a local bar, where he is hired for what seems like a simple job: to collect a debt owed to a powerful local businessman, Hank Pittleman.
Soon Archer discovers that recovering the debt won’t be so easy. The indebted man has a furious grudge against Hank and refuses to pay; Hank’s clever mistress has her own designs on Archer; and both Hank and Archer’s stern parole officer, Miss Crabtree, are keeping a sharp eye on him.
When a murder takes place right under Archer’s nose, police suspicions rise against the ex-convict, and Archer realizes that the crime could send him right back to prison…if he doesn’t use every skill in his arsenal to track down the real killer.
The year is 1949. Aloysius Archer is an Army veteran who has just been released from Carderock Prison. The parole board sent him to Poca City—located somewhere in the southwest I’d guess by the description of wind and sand.
First thing he is supposed to do is check in with his parole agent and get himself established, beginning with a job. His parole officer hands him a full list of do’s and don’ts—mostly don’ts—including booze, bars, and broads. (Hey, it’s 1949—the manner of speech was different then…and this is classic 40s noir.) Of course, the first thing he does is head to the local dive. He might not be looking for trouble, but trouble finds him.
The writing style is third person, short and unemotional. It’s impersonal—distant. Not an old TV black and white version of Friday, and definitely on the other side of the law, but close. Archer doesn’t speak a lot of himself but rather his observations. They are jaded, fashioned from the war and his term in prison for a crime of which he was innocent. And there are a lot of observations—telling—not showing.
Still, there is this “job” he’s had dumped into his lap. It’ll mean $100 and also keep him from having to do the job he was to be assigned (which will be described later and enough to turn your stomach). He goes about the investigation-collection cautiously, intelligently, during which we learn a great deal more about the support characters. By learning about the support characters and his interaction with them, we get to know more about Archer. The man. The Army veteran. The ex-con.
There is some rough language, although the reader is not accosted with the liberal use of the F-word like sometimes happens today. There is no sexual content—though it’s implied. It’s a slow burn and for some reason, keeps the reader (or listener) engaged. Like listening in on the neighbors on the other side of paper-thin walls. Gees!
There are some real mean men—a rather realistic, crude, and rude reality check to the way it was back then. The suspense continues to build and the whole storyline goes into a pre-conclusion with both barrels (over and under). Then, just as quickly, like a dispassionate epilogue, pulls all the loose threads together.
I don’t know what I expected. The narrator did an excellent job of keeping his narrative low-key, forcing you to listen to the story and the dialogue. This is a well known author. I’ve certainly seen and recognized the name. Perhaps this is a departure of his normal writing style. I wouldn’t know. This is entertaining but is Book 1 of the series and unless there is an Archer Book 2, may be the first and last. I will say, however, that even were it not, I would sample another of Baldacci’s novels. I’ve got to see if this is his normal writing style.
Genre: Action, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Historical Fiction, Action, Adventure Fiction
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Print Length: 464 pages
Listening Length: 11 hrs, 41 min.
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: One Good Deed [Amazon]
The Author: David Baldacci has been writing since childhood, when his mother gave him a lined notebook in which to write down his stories. (Much later, when David thanked her for being the spark that ignited his writing career, she revealed that she’d given him the notebook to keep him quiet, “because every mom needs a break now and then.”)
David published his first novel, ABSOLUTE POWER, in 1996. A feature film followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 41 novels for adults; all have been national and international bestsellers and several have been adapted for film and television. His novels have been translated into over 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries, with 150 million copies sold worldwide. David has also published seven novels for younger readers.
David received his Bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, after which he practiced law in Washington, D.C.
David is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across the United States.
David and his family live in Virginia.
The Narrator: (From his website) Edoardo Ballerini is a two time winner of the Audiobook Publishers Association’s Best Male Narrator Audie Award (2013, Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter; 2019, Watchers by Dean Koontz). He has recorded nearly 300 titles, from classic works by Tolstoy, Dante, Kafka, Whitman and Camus, to best-sellers by James Patterson and David Baldacci, and spiritual titles by The Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hahn.
©2020 V Williams