Although Rory’s character is occasionally ill-defined, his interactions with Alan remain menacing—and Frederick reminds us...

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AFTER LYLETOWN

Radical activity from the 1960s comes back to haunt a former militant.

Alan Ripley is a respected attorney with a modest business in wills and real-estate transactions. He’s into his second marriage, has a young son and, at least on the surface, seems quite content. But when he gets a call from Rory Dekker, Alan is reminded of an ugly incident from 20 years earlier. In a spasm of radical enthusiasm, he and some acquaintances had been involved in a scheme to rob a gun store in Lyletown and distribute the weapons to blacks oppressed by The Man. While Alan’s role in the crime was supposed to be modest—he was scheduled to be a lookout while others took care of business—a case of appendicitis removed him from the scene, and Rory took his place. Planned to unfold like clockwork, the crime was unbelievably botched, and Rory was the only one who served time. Now that he’s out of prison, he contacts Alan, but Rory’s motives are murky—a shakedown? blackmail? a power play? Alan has kept his wife Julia in the dark about this sordid incident from his past, and he has to work hard to keep Rory’s presence out of their lives. While Rory’s activities remain shadowy, he continues to contact Alan every few years when he’s in a jam—getting involved with a mob boss in New Orleans, for example, and having to hightail it out of town when he disses the boss’s son. Rory’s creepiness understandably makes Alan uncomfortable, but eventually he’s able to confess his past to Julia and resume his “normal” life...more or less.

Although Rory’s character is occasionally ill-defined, his interactions with Alan remain menacing—and Frederick reminds us of the tenebrous atmosphere of the ’60s. 

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-57962-2190

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

ONE MINUTE OUT

Ninth in the author’s Gray Man series (Mission Critical, 2019, etc.) in which “the most elite assassin in the world” has his hands full.

Ex–CIA Agent Courtland Gentry (the Gray Man) has Serbian war criminal Ratko Babic in his gun sight, but when he decides instead to kill the old beast face to face, he uncovers a massive sex-slavery ring. “I don’t get off on this,” the Gray Man lies to the reader as he stabs a sentry. “I only kill bad people.” Of course he does. If there weren’t an endless supply of them to slay, he’d have little reason to live. Now, countless young Eastern European women are being lured into sexual slavery and fed into an international pipeline, sold worldwide through “the Consortium.” Bad guys refer to their captives as products, not people. They are “merchandise,” but their plight haunts the Gray Man, so of course he is going to rescue as many women as he can. The road to their salvation will be paved with the dead as he enlists a team of fighters to strike the enemy, which includes a South African dude who is giddy for the chance to meet and kill the Gray Man. Meanwhile, Europol analyst Talyssa Corbu meets the hero while on a personal mission to rescue her sister. “You don’t seem like a psychopath,” she tells him. Indeed, though he could play one on TV. Corbu and her sister are tough and likable characters while the director of the Consortium leads a double life as family man and flesh merchant. Human trafficking is an enormous real-life problem, so it’s satisfying to witness our larger-than-life protagonist put his combat skills to good use. There will be a sequel, of course. As a friend tells the wounded Gentry at the end, he’ll be off killing bozos again before he knows it.

Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09891-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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