Endgame by Bill Pronzini (Tom Doherty, 2017) Nameless has been in semi-retirement for some years now, sharing his workload and fading ever more into the San Francisco background while colleague Jake Runyon comes to the fore. Having shaped reader expectations, Pronzini here uses the parallel narratives to upend them.
The Violated by Bill Pronzini (Bloomsbury, 2017) Something of an experimental crime novel. A small-town rape suspect is murdered and Pronzini, rather than focussing on the investigation itself, switches among first-person viewpoints to offer a more holistic examination of the community. The unfinished personal stories embody lack of closure.
Labyrinth by Bill Pronzini (St. Martin’s, 1980) In some ways it’s nice to return to the days when ‘Nameless’ was more a down-and-out private eye than the upstanding investigator of later books. Bill Pronzini showcases (as always) his gift for exploring the people and place that surround a mystery.
Zigzag by Bill Pronzini (Forge, 2016) It’s nice to have Nameless back as a sole investigator, even if only within a collection. The two previously published short stories are more vignettes than actual mysteries but the two original novellas offer more intrigue (albeit with less closure than usual). Add to Anti-Banner
Vixen by Bill Pronzini (Forge, 2015) In recent years, dovetailing with the revelation of the titular protagonist’s name, Pronzini’s exalted ‘Nameless Detective’ novels have become less about mystery, more about character. Though focussing on the who, not how, of a femme fatale plot, Vixen still keeps us interested.
The Cemetery Man (and Other Darkside Tales) by Bill Pronzini (Perfect Crime Books, 2014) Bill Pronzini’s great talent for capturing character and setting, so effective in his mystery novels, is frittered away in this collection of dark short fiction spanning 1976-2013, yielding mostly unsatisfying vignettes and denouements that rest on skewed reinterpretations of the stories’ titles.