Popular mystery writer David Baldacci is a writing machine. Like Janet Evanovich and Alexander McCall Smith, another two of my favorite fiction writers, he drops a new book at least yearly, and has several different series going at the same time.
Baldacci has written 45 adult books (he also writes for children) and sold over 150 million copies. You’ll notice that his series only last 4-6 books, then he moves on to a new character. He will have several book series going at the same time.
I enjoy most of his series, some more than others. It is easy to fall into the Kay Scarpetta (Patricia Cornwell’s medical examiner series) syndrome, my name for a series that goes on too long, becoming too overblown and unbelievable. I loved that series until it became Marvel comic-bookish and fanciful. How do you constantly top yourself? Cornwell started her series with medical procedure and science, and then quickly melodrama replaced solid criminal investigation and believable characters. The Robie and Puller series started leaning in this direction. Even the Camel Club became a bit too fantastic at the end. I miss the Camel Club, that is the series that drew me into Balducci’s writing.
Baldacci’s latest is the third in the new Archer series. Archer is a private investigator in the early 1950s. He’s tough, already world-weary, and smart on his feet. Archer is a World War Two vet, spent time in prison and is mature beyond his years. In the first book, Archer was working his way to Bay City, California, where he hoped to begin working for Willie Dash, an established private investigator. Along the road, Archer gets in shootouts, meets singer-actress Liberty Callahan and buys a French automobile.
Archer is not exactly Humphrey Bogart, he’s also part Clint Eastwood (Baldacci’s first mystery became an Eastwoo film). A handsome brawler, Archer lives by his wits, and has a kindness that he keeps mostly hidden. The dialogue is smart and witty, reflective of the era and noir characters, but Baldacci does not make it too cute.
Archer is the latest Baldacci mystery creation, and he stands with Baldacci’s best characters. Los Angeles, Hollywood and the glorious 1950s, great opportunities for mystery, glamour, murder and romance. Archer is not unlike Puller and Roby, two characters from other series.
The ☑️ represent books I have read.
Aloysius Archer – Archer (who only goes by his last name) is a private detective in post WWII America. He spends some time in prison, then gravitates toward private investigation work. He is a bit like the hard-boiled PI’s of the film noir era, yet he resists becoming a cliché. Archer is good with his fists, but luckier with his brain. This series has great potential.
☑️ One Good Deed (Archer #1), 2019
☑️ A Gambling Man (Archer #2), 2021
☑️ Dream Town (Archer #3), 2022
Atlee Pine – She’s an FBI agent in charge of an outpost in the middle of nowhere Arizona. She’s obsessed with finding her missing twin sister who was abducted as a child and the unraveling of her family. The books all relate to finding out what happened to her sister and her own peace.
☑️ Long Road to Mercy (Atlee Pine #1), 2018
☑️ A Minute to Midnight (Atlee Pine #2), 2019
☑️ Daylight (Atlee Pine #3), 2020
☑️ Mercy (Atlee Pine #4), 2021
Amos Decker – A former NFL big man, Decker suffered an injury that gave him photographic recall. Formerly a police detective, he now works as an investigator for the FBI. He’s the Memory Man.
☑️ Memory Man (Amos Decker #1), 2015
☑️ The Last Mile (Amos Decker #2), 2016
☑️ The Fix (Amos Decker #3), 2017
☑️ The Fallen (Amos Decker #4), 2018
☑️ Redemption (Amos Decker #5), 2019
☑️ Walk the Wire (Amos Decker #6), 2020
☑️ Long Shadows (Amos Decker #7), 2022
The Camel Club – Primarily four unusual men who are not what they seem. Living on the fringe of society, they actually investigate conspiracies involving the government, and use their mysterious pasts to help solve this complex cases.
☑️ The Camel Club (Camel Club #1), 2005
☑️ The Collectors (Camel Club #2), 2006
☑️ Stone Cold (Camel Club #3), 2007
☑️ Divine Justice (Camel Club #4), 2008
☑️ Hell’s Corner (Camel Club #5), 2010
☑️ Bullseye (Camel Club #5.5), 2014
John Puller – A military investigator, Puller draws the most twisted cases. On more than one occasion, his cases involve a family member.
☑️ Zero Day (John Puller #1), 2011
☑️ The Forgotten (John Puller #2), 2012
☑️ The Escape (John Puller #3), 2014
☑️ No Man’s Land (John Puller #4), 2016
Will Robie – An assassin employed by the federal government, Robie is often assisted by Jessica Reel, who can be deadlier than Robie. Robie’s world is a complicated one, usually more gray than black & white.
☑️ The Innocent (Will Robie #1), 2012
☑️ The Hit (Will Robie #2), 2013
☑️ Bullseye (Will Robbie #2.5), 2014
☑️ The Target (Will Robbie #3), 2014
☑️ The Guilty (Will Robie #4), 2015
☑️ End Game (Will Robie #5), 2017
Sean King & Michelle Maxwell – Secret Service agents and then former agents, they solve high profile government mysteries. My least favorite of the Baldacci books. I bailed out of this series. I found it too slick and generic.
Split Second (King & Maxwell, #1), 2003
Hour Game (King & Maxwell, #2), 2004
Simple Genius (King & Maxwell, #3), 2007
☑️ First Family (King & Maxwell, #4), 2009
☑️ The Sixth Man (King & Maxwell, #5), 2011
King and Maxwell (King & Maxwell #6), 2013
Baldacci has written other series and one-off books, most of which I have not read, with the exception of One Summer (2011), a very sad tale about a family dealing with the death of their young mother. This was quite a change of pace, not the usual books I read. This story would be suitable for a Hallmark or Lifetime movie.