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One Good Deed by David Baldacci
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it was amazing

For the last couple of years, Baldacci has been producing two books a year, and focusing most of his attention on his series characters of Amos Decker (Memory Man), Will Robie, and John Puller. However, Baldacci is breaking his Spring/Fall book releasee schedule by publishing a third book this summer, in which he introduces a new character – World War II veteran Aloysius Archer – and explores a different historical era.

The book starts in 1949, when Archer arrives in Poca City after being released on parole from Carderock Prison. Archer is both a military veteran and a convicted felon who served time for a crime that he was framed for. Now he’s been given important rules, including what to do and not do in order to keep him from returning to prison. Archer’s goal is to get a job and stay out of trouble. However, after he is hired to collect a debt owed to a local business man, Hank Pittleman, things get crazy and Archer finds himself in the middle of a deadly fuel.

When Archer goes to collect the debt from farmer, Lucas Tuttle, things don’t go well. Tuttle refuses to pay Pittleman back anything until Archer brings Archer brings his daughter, Jackie, back home. The problem is that Jackie is currently Pittleman’s mistress, and she has no interest in returning home or seeing her father. Archer has other problems too. His parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree, is a tough and stern, by-the-book official who is keeping an eye on his activities, to make sure he obeys the rules or be sent back to prison.

It doesn’t take long for Archer to get himself caught-up in small town secrets and personal family histories. While Archer works on getting the debt resolved, a murder occurs, and he is the closest and most-likely suspect. Archer finds himself trying to stay out of jail while solving a murder that it appears that he was set-up to take the fall for. The worst part is that Archer cannot trust anyone, because every time he involves someone, he finds they are not being honest with him.

There are a several good things about this book and Baldacci’s new character, Aloysius Archer. The first of which, is Baldacci’s risk in taking on a different time period. 1949 is not 2018, and it requires a strong ability to not only describe things like dress styles and transportation vehicles, but also truly understand the proper political and social norms, and enough details from World War II to provide the depth and quality needed to portray the true historical context. For example, Baldacci uses the social and financial inequality between men and women in that time period to propel and strengthen his story. Both Jackie Tuttle and Ernestine Crabtree contributed greatly throughout the book.

I also found myself really enjoying the role of Irving Shaw, the state detective. I am not sure if his name is intended to be in honor of the well-known author, Irvin Shaw, but I couldn’t help myself thinking that it might be. I loved Shaw and his investigation methods, especially how he kept calling Archer – “son”. Shaw kept reminding me of a 1949 version of Peter Falk’s famous television detective, Columbo.

This book really surprised me in its high level of quality. Publishing two books each year is a hard thing to do without losing quality. Publishing a third book in a year seems almost impossible, but somehow Baldacci pulls it off. Baldacci’s smooth rhythmic writing style is there, stronger than ever. He connects his plot, characters, and style together like the lyrics of a good Eagles hit song that you just sing along with and get lost in the music. His books are a smooth and fluid read. There are no disruptions or hiccups in the flow of words. His language is descriptive, but focused on moving the story forward with high and lows in both action sequences and moments of discovery.

Baldacci knows his characters and he shares them with us on an intimate level. As Archer works his way through the clues and deals with the obstacles thrown his way, important information is revealed step by step, like peeling away the layers of an onion. For an author that produces two books a year (or more), Baldacci shows that he is still capable of intricate plotting, character depth, and pacing.

Overall, “One Good Deed” is an enjoyable journey back in time when things were different and America was recovering and rebuilding following the devastation of World War II. For me, I consider this some of his best work, reflecting fast-paced plotting, vigorous elements of mystery, and strong multi-dimensional characters you can appreciate. I am definitely interested in reading another Archer adventure where he can explore the new career that was openly alluded to. I would also love to see another appearance from detective Irving Shaw.

Come on Baldacci – bring them back again…
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Reading Progress

August 29, 2019 – Started Reading
August 29, 2019 – Shelved
August 29, 2019 –
August 31, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Bettina (new) - added it

Bettina Great review as always, Scott :)

Scott Thank you for the kind words. Much appreciated.

Scott Thank you for the kind words. Much appreciated.

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