Bill Pronzini: Hardcase



We have a somewhat believable dramatic twist towards the end The Central Valley scenery is uite well capturedThe other thread of the plot focuses on ND attempting to hire a technology savvy young assistant Oh no not another instance of the teenager computer whiz horrible clich But there is a cool angle on this The assistant is a young female African American student with attitude The scene of their first meeting is realistic well written and addresses issues of race so much better than the usual cloying inept and well meant but counterproductive writing by authors like John Shannon While Hardcase is mainly an entertainment read it poses two serious uestions The first concerns the responsibilities of a private detective to their client What obligation do they have to convey all gathered information to the client if to the best of their udgment the information will be harmful to the client Do they have a right to play God The second is perhaps a bit of my own personal peeve were I adopted would I be so insistent on knowing who my biological parents were I emphatically say no does this make me not normal Why do people need to know who their biological parents wereThere are shades of Ross Macdonald one of my most favorite writers of all time in Mr Pronzini s novel The prose though is not as accomplished as in best works by Macdonald not as lyrical and not as economical Still the novel perfectly fits this website It is a good readThree stars 22 in the Nameless Detective series Nameless is back in this 1995 offering one of the few entries I missed of the first 30 of author Pronzini s long running series For long time series fans Nameless wedding to Kerry is a landmark and so is his initial prickly interview with Tamara looking for a part time position as computer expert for technophobe Nameless Nameless Detective the California PI approaching 60 marries his longtime girlfriend Kerry After a civil ceremony Nameless takes on a client who wants him to find her birthparents Melanie Ann Aldrich has Hometown Honey just discovered that she was adopted and is sure there s a reason her adoptive parents who are deceased kept this information from her Nameless fairly uickly identifies the woman s birthparents but that sust the beginning Melanie was conceived when a young man raped a disturbed young woman Nameless discovers that the man who is now middle aged and living in a San Jose Calif suburb may be responsible for a series of rapes and murders over a 20 year period When Nameless investigation gets too close to the suspect the women in the case Melanie the man s wife and even Kerry are threatened This 22nd entry in the Nameless Detective series is a thoroughly successful entertainment to use Graham Greene s phrase which is not surprising since Bill Pronzini is a real proIt starts out as many mysteries do with what seems to be a straightforward problem Melanie Aldrich going through the family papers after her mother s death has ust learned that she is adopted and she wants to know her real identity who her parents were and if either or both are alive At first Nameless gets stonewalled for the details of Melanie s conception and birth are sad and shabby and no. E easy But that's before he runs into a shocking small town cover up and some very angry peop.

Here is a list of all the books in order Happy Reading1971 The Snatch Random House 1973 The Vanished Random House 1973 Undercurrents Random House 1977 Blowback Ramdom House 1978 Twospot Putman 1980 Laybrinth St Martin s Press 1980 A Killing In Xanadu Waves Press 1981 Hoodwinked St Martin s Press 1982 Scattershot St Martin s Press 1982 Dragonfire St Martin s Press 1983 Bindlestiff St Martin s Press 1983 Casefile St Martin s Press 1984 uicksilver St Martin s Press 1984 Nightshades St Martin s Press 1984 Double St Martin s Press 1985 Bones St Martin s Press 1985 Grave Yard Plots St Martin s Press 1886 Dreadfall St Martin s Press 1988 Shackles St Martin s Press 1988 Small Fellonies St Martin s Press 1990 Jackpot Delacorte 1991 Breakdown Delacorte 1992 uarry Delacorte 1992 Epitaths Delacorte 1993 Demons Delacorte 1995 Hardcase Delacorte 1996 Spadework Crippen Landru 1996 Sentinels Carroll Graf 1997 Illusions Carroll Graf 1998 Boobytrap Carroll Graf 1999 Sluths Five Star 1999 Duo Five Star 2000 Crazybones Carroll Graf 2002 Bleeders Carroll Graf 2003 Spook Carroll Graf 2003 Scenarios Five Star 2005 Nightcrawlers Forge 2006 Mourners Forge 2007 Savages Forge 2008 Feaver Forge 2009 Schemers Forge 2010 Betrayers Forge 2011 Camouflage Forge 2012 Hellbox Forge 2012 Kinsmen Cemetery Dance 2012 Femme Cemetery Dance 2013 Nemesis Forge Mystery StoryI thought I had read all of Prozini s Nameless detective stories but somehow I missed this one It was a nice surprise to stumble across it and then get to read it His stories are always nimble and a pleasure to read They are always satisfying Though this novel starts off as a very mundane adoption search it uickly pivots into the story of a serial rapist who has been terrorizing California for decades It might ust be because I m reading it in the modern day when the Golden State Killer was recently caught but it makes me wonder if the sociopath then known as the Original Night Stalker or the East Area Rapist was on Pronzini s mind The two criminals certainly have similar genesises in Sacramento Whichever the case it makes the novel that much fascinating when read from the far side of April 2018Unfortunately the novel takes a notable turn for the worse in its later half That starts with Nameless immoral stupid and criminal actions which should be career ending He takes a client s money after having decided not to tell her what she s learned then violates her confidentiality by talking about her to a man that he already suspects to be very dangerous The worst problem with this piled upon stupidity is that most of it isn t acknowledged in the book and in fact the stupid ball is passed around uite a bit as a number of other characters all make decisions that are unbelievable out of character or both Kerry decides to drive up on her own for their honeymoon Nameless new assistant gives out their address and any number of police are unable or said to be unlikely to respond to calls about a murdering rapist on the stalk for hours at a time This sloppy sloppy writing is all purely in service of moving the plot along to a predetermined point but Pronzini is so blatantly manipulative in doing so that it drags down Shamus Award wining Pronzini delivers a riveting new mystery featuring his acclaimed Nameless.

He whole bookAnd then there s the rapist s final motive when he decides to start harming women Falling For Him just to get vengeance on their men It s the whole fridging women trope but it s actually made concrete in the book as a character s motive It goes beyond disturbing to disgusting and I don tust mean disgust with the character I mean Pronzini gets a little bit of a pass because this book was written right around the time that Kyle Raynor was finding his girlfriend in a refrigerator and years before Gail Simone popularized it as a trope but it s still a very bad look especially as I vaguely recall Nameless finding Kerry bloodied in a closet in some recent book s finale Pronzini has never been the writer that his wife Marcia Muller is but his spare puzzle oriented books sometimes hit the spot However this book with its manipulative plotting and its problematic messaging intentional or not may finally be enough to put me off continuing with Nameless book on tapereally weak ambling plot No character developmentno redeeming value PROTAGONIST Nameless DetectiveSETTING San Francisco areaSERIES 22 of 41RATING 35WHY Nameless is hired by a young woman who wants to know the identity of her birth parents There s not much information to go on but he manages to figure out a few things that get him started He finds out who her parents are but is reluctant to reveal the truth to her which leads to an unfortunate conclusion Before this all began Nameless and his longtime significant other Kerry finally get married A competent entry in the series but not all that enthralling Slow start but filled in origins from later books Ultimately solid story Damn that was tense When Namless is hired to help a young lady find her birth parents things look normal But when there is a crime involved it gets harder And when the crime happend in a small town that wants the past to stay in the past it gets harder yet And tension explodes when one of the birth parents comes looking for revenge This turn into a real Hardcase The deputy was still alive twitching a little now moaning softly Shot once in the back Undercover at City Hospital just above the right kidney He d lost a lot of blood already the bright arterial kindI have recently reviewed Bill Pronzini s non series novel The Other Side of Silence and uite liked it so I decided to return to his famous Nameless Detective series of which I had read two or three installments many years ago Hardcase 1995 comes from about mid period of the series and begins with a momentous event the Narrator Detective Whose Name We Will Never Learn But It Is Likely Italian let s call him ND is marrying his girlfriend in San Francisco The opening scenes are designed to be hilarious but the comedic payoff is meager and the humor low brow and uite clich Mercifully the crime thread soon begins a twenty three year old woman who works as a model hires ND to find her real parents She hasust found out that she had been adopted The case takes ND to a small farm town near Lodi in Central Valley in California where he learns some gruesome facts from the past that are related to the case We follow the interesting and fast plot through various places in the Bay Area and for once. Detective Newly married and ust back from his honeymoon Nameless thinks his new case will

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Mystery Writers of America Awards Grand Master 2008Shamus Awards Best Novel winner 1999 for