This is a really good historical fiction mystery/thriller. I must admit, I read the first book in this series One Good Deed and did not enjoy it very much. In fact, I couldn’t even finish it! This really surprised me, because I normally really enjoy David Baldacci’s books. I’m so glad that I revisited the series because this book was so good.
It’s New Year’s Eve in 1953 and Archer is in LA to spend the night with his friend, aspiring actress Liberty Callahan. They are at a fancy schmancy party with the Hollywood elite when a screenwriter Liberty’s knows, Eleanor Lamb, approaches them and asks to hire Archer because she feels that her life is in danger. They make a plan to meet the next day, but later in the evening Archer decides to check on Lamb’s safety and discovers a dead body in her house and Lamb missing. This sets Archer on a path to find the killer, and Lamb, and pits him against dangerous LA gangs, mobsters in Vegas, and the seedy side of Hollywood.
The book starts off slowly, and continues to build tension until the crazy end. The more Archer investigates, the more complicated the problem gets. Baldacci does a great job of snowballing Archer’s situation, adding more and more nefarious villains as the book progresses. Most of the minor characters are your stereotypical bad guys, but I didn’t mind, as it was still fun to read. The book shines a light on the darker side of Hollywood and fame during that time period, particularly the studio contracts that used to bind actors to studios and dictate pretty much their whole life, which I’ve read about in other books and was pretty awful to women.
If you’re looking for an old fashioned complicated mystery, this is the book for you. While this book is part of a series, it’s written as a standalone and you don’t have to read the other books to enjoy this one. There is enough exposition in it to fill you in on the back story of the characters.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing. All opinions are my own.