While the sad world of an over-the-hill, out-of-work actor comes across depressingly well and the mystery’s solution is...



Superstar Corky Henderson is murdered and his former friend Frank Callington feels compelled to find the killer in Le Mat’s debut mystery.

Callington, an out-of-work actor, suspects his friend Ray killed Corky. The three men had starred in a ’70s blockbuster, though only Corky found stardom. Callington and Ray, angry and resentful that Corky offered little to help their careers, complain about him often, including one conversation in which Callington remarked to Ray that Corky should be killed. When Corky is murdered two weeks later, Callington fears Ray might have gone through with it. Obsessed with discovering the truth, Callington interviews witnesses, obtains the police file, stakes out a house every day for a week, and even suffers a serious beating during his vigilant investigation. The real (and unsolved) mystery here is why Callington, not a suspect himself, is willing to go through all of this to find the killer of a man he didn’t particularly like. Apparently, they weren’t even that close. Le Mat’s stream-of-consciousness narrative, in which the reader is privy to every thought—significant or mundane—in Callington’s head makes Callington’s lonely, depressed interior life come through loud and clear. But by choosing to summarize rather than actually detail most of the book’s crucial conversations and confrontations, Le Mat misses many opportunities to bring the narrative to life. Characterization is also lax; women, for instance, are described only as “well-endowed and black” or “low-cut and lovely as usual.” With prose like that, it’s hard to see the characters as anything but types. And while women are said to find Callington attractive, some readers may find that hard to believe about a guy who introduces himself to a woman he’s just met with “You’re hot, did you know that?”

While the sad world of an over-the-hill, out-of-work actor comes across depressingly well and the mystery’s solution is plausible, the work is fleshed out as a promising first draft rather than a finished product. 

Pub Date: June 26, 2010


Page Count: -

Publisher: Le Mat Films

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

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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.


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.


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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