Bill Pronzini has earned a living writing mysteries for a long time, publishing his first novel, “The Stalker,” over 40 years ago. In addition to stand-alone crime stories, Pronzini has carved out a niche for himself by creating the Nameless Detective series.
“Camouflage,” released on June 7, is the 35th adventure for the aging San Francisco private investigator.
This time around, Nameless is hired by David Virden, a social climber who intends to marry Judith LoPresti, the very rich, very Catholic daughter of Virden’s boss.
There’s a problem, however.
Virden needs to find Roxanne L. McManus, his third ex-wife, and get her to sign annulment papers. He hires Nameless to do the job.
With the help of Tamara, his partner and a computer whiz, Nameless finds the ex, calls his client to let him know and closes the case, thinking all’s well that ends well.
Within a couple of days, the client calls and says the woman may be calling herself Roxanne L. McManus, but she’s not the woman he was married to. When the unhappy client goes missing, the real detective work begins.
While Nameless and Tamara are occupied with Virden’s disappearance and the mysterious ex, their colleague Jake Runyon is dealing with personal issues. His new girlfriend, Bryn Darby, suspects that her son, Bobby, is being physically abused. Bobby lives with his father, a high-powered attorney and his new girlfriend, and Bryn feels helpless to stop the abuse.
Runyon has his own set of miseries. His beloved wife, Colleen, died of ovarian cancer and he put himself on a shelf – until he met Bryn. Now, he’s willing to do anything to protect her and her boy.
The two plots fit nicely together, and Pronzini made me care for the people he created so long ago. From the reviews I’ve read, the author has done a solid job in developing the characters through the years.
I had read Pronzini’s “Blue Lonesome,” (1995) but had somehow missed the Nameless books. Pronzini writes clean, sharp sentences that evolve into clean, sharp paragraphs that tell a clean, sharp story centered more on the characters than gratuitous action and violence.
“Camouflage” is detective fiction in its purest form. I’m going back to the first book in the series, “The Snatch,” and work my way forward, getting to know Nameless one story at a time.
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