cover image Dream Town

Dream Town

David Baldacci. Grand Central, $29 (432p) ISBN 978-1-5387-1977-0

Bestseller Baldacci’s welcome third outing for PI Aloysius Archer (after 2021’s A Gambling Man) takes Archer, a decorated WWII vet who works for a detective agency in Bay Town, Calif., to Los Angeles to celebrate New Year’s Eve 1952 with actress and love interest Liberty Callahan. That evening, at a restaurant frequented by such stars as Frank Sinatra and Groucho Marx, Callahan introduces Archer to her friend Eleanor Lamb, a screenwriter working on a script for Bette Davis. After Lamb learns of Archer’s profession, she seeks to hire him because she’s gotten middle-of-the-night–hang-up calls, and someone entered her Malibu home and left a bloody knife in her kitchen sink. Lamb’s fears for her life seem justified when she disappears. Right after Archer finds an unknown man shot to death in her house, someone bludgeons the gumshoe into unconsciousness. The tension rises as his subsequent investigation places his own life in danger. Baldacci can be a bit overfond of similes and metaphors (ocean breakers hurl “their sound tentacles”), but otherwise solid prose nicely evokes the traditional hard-boiled whodunit. Raymond Chandler fans will be entertained. Agent: Aaron Priest, Aaron M. Priest Literary. (Apr.)