Dream Town by David Baldacci
in Historical Mystery
It’s the eve of 1953, and Aloysius Archer is in Los Angeles to ring in the New Year with an old friend, aspiring actress Liberty Callahan, when their evening is interrupted by an acquaintance of Callahan’s: Eleanor Lamb, a screenwriter in dire straits.
After a series of increasingly chilling events—mysterious phone calls, the same blue car loitering outside her house, and a bloody knife left in her sink—Eleanor fears that her life is in danger, and she wants to hire Archer to look into the matter. Archer suspects that Eleanor knows more than she’s saying, but before he can officially take on her case, a dead body turns up inside of Eleanor’s home . . . and Eleanor herself disappears.
Missing client or not, Archer is dead set on finding both the murderer and Eleanor. With the help of Callahan and his partner Willie Dash, he launches an investigation that will take him from mob-ridden Las Vegas to the glamorous world of Hollywood to the darkest corners of Los Angeles—a city in which beautiful faces are attached to cutthroat schemers, where the cops can be more corrupt than the criminals . . . and where the powerful people responsible for his client’s disappearance will kill without a moment’s hesitation if they catch Archer on their trail.
Okay, yeah, it’s Archer, Book #3. I did catch the first in the Archer series, One Good Deed, and found it…compelling, dispassionate, unusual. Somehow, I missed Book 2 but seems I didn’t miss much. This is the same Archer I remembered from Book 1.
Perhaps what I notice immediately is that 50s style delivery. Not quite Friday-esque, but almost. It’s rather black and white that tends to turn gray sometimes.
But this entry to the series didn’t quite grab me. Perhaps there were just too many characters. Archer has a lady friend, Liberty Callahan—perfect for the 50s Hollywood set. Back then it was easy to visualize Bogey, Sinatra and his cronies wielding their Hollywood power and mining the darker side of LA for opportunity. Archer, as a private eye is contacted by Eleanor Lamb who is worried about recent threats. Then she promptly disappears leaving a body in her home. (If it’d been me, I’d have dropped it right there.)
Between the mob-riddled Las Vegas scenes and LA, Archer works with Liberty and his partner Willie Dash (a character in his own right) to hunt for the missing Eleanor and the murderer—or is that one and the same?
While the male narrator’s delivery of the storyline was geared toward the period, it just didn’t light a fire, the characters remained a bit blah for me, and the female narrator at times seemed to have phoned the whole thing in, sometimes lagging or slightly disjointed in the dialogue. I suspected she read her part from a remote location.
It’s a bit of a slow burn, noir crime fiction. There are the usual themes in noir fiction of gangsters, drugs, secrets, smuggling, and murder; entertaining if not engaging.
I received a complimentary review copy of this audiobook from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts. 3.5 stars
Genre: Historical Thrillers, War & Military Action Fiction
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Listening Length: 11 hrs
Narrators: Edoardo Ballerini, Brittany Pressley
Publication Date: April 19, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Dream Town [Amazon]
Rosepoint Publishing: Three-point Five Stars
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 44 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 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.
©2022 V Williams