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Blowback Hardcover – Oct 5 1978


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Hardcover, Oct 5 1978

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Robert Hale Ltd (Oct. 5 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0709169884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0709169888
  • Shipping Weight: 789 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Oct. 22 2003
Format: Paperback
In 1971, author Bill Pronzini was only 27 when he wrote The Snatch, building on a shorter and different version of the story that appeared in the May 1969 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine under the same title. With the publication of this book, one of detective fiction's great characters was born with full fledged power and authenticity. If you have not yet read the Nameless Detective novels by Mr. Pronzini, you have a major treat ahead of you. Many of these are now out-of-print, so be sure to check your library for holdings in near-by cities.
The Nameless Detective is referred to that way because Mr. Pronzini never supplies a name until the fifth book in the series, Twospot, although he begins toying with the reader about this point in Blowback, which is the fourth book in the series. I won't reveal that name here.
Mr. Pronzini presents a world in which many men take evil actions to further selfish interests, and many women and children suffer because of that selfishness. The police and private investigators suffer along with the victims, for evil-doing has painful consequences for everyone. Mr. Pronzini's plots are complex, yet he provides plenty of clues to help you identify the evil-doer on your own. Despite the transparency of many plots, he successfully uses plot complications to keep the action interesting and fresh.
But the reason to read the books is because of the character development for the Nameless Detective. Nameless is a former police officer in San Francisco who collects pulp fiction about tough private detectives. Overcome by the evil he sees as a police officer and drawn to the complex imagery of the strong, silent hero who rights wrongs, Nameless tries to live that role as a private detective.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Life and Death Oct. 22 2003
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In 1971, author Bill Pronzini was only 27 when he wrote The Snatch, building on a shorter and different version of the story that appeared in the May 1969 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine under the same title. With the publication of this book, one of detective fiction's great characters was born with full fledged power and authenticity. If you have not yet read the Nameless Detective novels by Mr. Pronzini, you have a major treat ahead of you. Many of these are now out-of-print, so be sure to check your library for holdings in near-by cities.
The Nameless Detective is referred to that way because Mr. Pronzini never supplies a name until the fifth book in the series, Twospot, although he begins toying with the reader about this point in Blowback, which is the fourth book in the series. I won't reveal that name here.
Mr. Pronzini presents a world in which many men take evil actions to further selfish interests, and many women and children suffer because of that selfishness. The police and private investigators suffer along with the victims, for evil-doing has painful consequences for everyone. Mr. Pronzini's plots are complex, yet he provides plenty of clues to help you identify the evil-doer on your own. Despite the transparency of many plots, he successfully uses plot complications to keep the action interesting and fresh.
But the reason to read the books is because of the character development for the Nameless Detective. Nameless is a former police officer in San Francisco who collects pulp fiction about tough private detectives. Overcome by the evil he sees as a police officer and drawn to the complex imagery of the strong, silent hero who rights wrongs, Nameless tries to live that role as a private detective. But he has trouble getting clients, and operating as a one-man shop causes him to lead a lonely existence. In his personal life, his career keeps women at a distance. Like a medieval knight errant, he sticks to his vows and pursues doing the right thing . . . even when it doesn't pay. At the same time, he's very aware of art, culture and popular trends. And he doesn't like much of what he sees. At the same time, he's troubled by a hacking cough that cigarettes make worse . . . but doesn't really want to know what causes his phlegm to rise. He's been afraid of doctors since he saw them operating on wounded men during World War II.
The books are also written in a more sophisticated version of the pulp fiction style, employing greater style through language and plot. The whole experience is like looking at an image in a series of mirrors that reflect into infinity.
These books are a must for those who love the noir style, and the modern fans of tough detectives with a heart of gold like Spenser . . . and can live without the wise cracks and repartee.
In Blowback, Nameless has finally gone to see a doctor and found out that he has a lesion on one of his lungs. Within a few days, a test will reveal whether the lesion is malignant or not. Nameless is extremely anxious and depressed at the same time. While waiting to hear, Nameless receives a call from an old friend from the service, Harry Burroughs. Harry's having trouble at his fishing camp, and wants Nameless to help out. Nameless agrees to come . . . but cannot promise for how long.
Traveling high into the Sierras into the Gold Rush country, Nameless finds an emotional tinder box. The fishing camp is filled with men, except for the flirtatious Angela Jerrold. Ms. Jerrold has every man in camp dreaming of being with her, which enrages her husband to the limits of his emotional strength. Something's bound to give in such a situation . . . but the precipitating event comes from left field and seems unconnected with the Jerrolds and the camp. But is it?
During the course of this novel, Nameless must not only help his old buddy keep his fishing camp, he also must face his demons about whether he wants to live or die.
Of the first five novels in the Nameless Detective series, this one is by far the best for creating emotional tension and exploring the psychology of the characters.
The mystery isn't too hard to figure out, but the clues are more subtle than usual in a Pronzini book . . . so think carefully about everything you read.
I especially enjoyed the commentaries by Nameless about how tourism has spoiled the authenticity of the Gold Rush country towns. Mr. Pronzini certainly has that point right.
If you haven't had a medical check-up lately, this might be a good time to get one. Early detection of many diseases can make a big difference in whether you live or die.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Pronzini is a master of the genre Feb. 2 2010
By L. J. Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First Sentence: Sunday Morning Coming Down... That's the title of a sad popular song by Kris Kristofferson, about a man with no wife and no children and nowhere to go and not much to look forward to on a quiet Sunday morning.

"The Nameless Detective" is about to turn 50, and is waiting to learn whether the lesion on his lung is cancer. He receives a call from a old Army buddy who now owns a fishing camp in Northern California Gold country. He is concerned his current group of guests, consisting of five men and one very attractive woman, might lead to violence. Bill doesn't expect becoming involved in another case when he witness a van go off a road only to find the driver, transporting a very valuable Daghastan carpet, has been murdered before the crash and the carpet missing.

With Pronzini, you get much more than your standard PI novel.

Partly because of his age, "Nameless" is at the introspective point in life where he thinks about his pulp fiction collection and acknowledges they no longer hold the same pleasure they once did, contemplates the soul, his past relationships, his ethics and morality. This adds a depth and richness to the character I enjoyed. I also appreciated the nod Pronzini gave to his friend Colin Wilcox character, Eberhardt.

The book has a very solid sense of place. Pronzini not only provides a visual picture of California's Gold Country, but makes a very insightful comment on what has happened to that area today.

A solid plot with a surprise is always the trademark of a Pronzini novel. It never feels contrived and he always provides all the clues, if you pay close attention. I was glad he included a brief history of Daghastan carpets as it better integrated that aspect of the story. There is a pulp fiction, noir feel to the book but contains no graphic language and the violence is after the fact.

In spite of this being only the fourth book in the series, Pronzini's mastery is apparent. There are a few mystery authors who should be considered required reading of the genre. Pronzini is definitely one.

BLOWBACK (Priv Inv-"Nameless"-No. Calif/Bay Area-Cont) - VG
Pronzini, Bill - 4th in series
Random House, 1977, US Hardcover
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Pretty much limps along until the last 20 pages April 25 2009
By Grey Wolffe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Unlike my friend who wrote the above/below review, I didn't find this book that appealing. It's slow to build to any kind of climax, and spends way too much time musing on his ex-girlfriend Erika. Having finally gone to a doctor, he's been told he has a lesion on his lung but he has to wait a week for the pathology report. During the time of this book he never gets around to calling the doctor for a report so he sweats it out over many pages.

The story is the same old hat, a man and his wife and her lover(s). He's obsessed with his business, she's looking for love (in all the wrong places, cue music), he's been drinking too much because of her; she comes on to everything in pants, etc. People get killed for no good reason, she gets what she wants (to get rid of him). In between there's a thing about a stolen oriental rug (so that Pronzini can show off what he found in researching rugs) and another murder, which doesn't add to anything but the length of the story.

Our friend is still 'nameless' though his army friend loves to call him "buddy". Not the best outing to my thinking, but that's just MHO.

Zeb Kantrowitz
Entertaining, but a bit of a dip from the earlier ones, July 5 2013
By col2910 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Synopsis/blurb.....
He's just gotten some bad news, and its impact has made him immobile and fearful. He's always known that the racking cough was not just something that was going to go away, that the ache in his chest was indicative of something more serious. And now he's found out that he has a lesion on his lung which could be malignant. He's set to sit and wait and do nothing else until he gets the results, but is swayed into action by a call from an old buddy of his from the service, Harry Burroughs. Harry has an isolated fishing camp in Northern California. Currently, he has several people in residence. Recent events have convinced him that the place is a powder keg waiting to erupt into violence. Therefore, the call to Nameless. What Nameless finds on his arrival is a simmering situation, mostly caused by the presence of a very erotic woman by the name of Angela who is there with her extremely jealous husband, Ray, who is even more combustible because he's a heavy drinker. Angela is a woman who plays sweet but gets deep underneath a man's skin and is nowhere near as innocent as she would have folks believe. And then the murders start. The first doesn't seem to have anything to do with the situation when a rug dealer is killed in his van. But then the inhabitants of the camp become targets, including Nameless. He faces more than the usual share of danger as he is entombed in a cave. The book has a little bit of everything--sexual intrigue, theft, murder, violence--all leavened by Nameless searching for the truth in a high tension environment.
My first book in July and this was a fairly decent start to the month. I found Nameless' fourth outing in Pronzini's (still going strong) long running series to be interesting and enjoyable without quite hitting the heights of some of the earlier books.
Most of my enjoyment with this series derives from the main character, Nameless and how he behaves and reacts to every situation he encounters. With few friends and currently no romantic interest in his life, it's hard not to feel a great deal of sympathy for this decent, troubled man. Troubled.......? Since book one The Snatch, Nameless has been plagued by a ratchety cough which concerns him. Book four and the source of the cough has been identified as a lesion on a lung.... but with the test results not in, the inner monologue of the guy resonates.......benign, malignant, benign, malignant.....obvious concerns for his mortality are worrying both him and this reader. We're all going to die one day, would there be anything worse than dying alone?
For me the mystery element of the book while interesting was secondary to the on-going mystery of his health. With 40 Nameless books under Pronzini's belt, I'll stick my neck out and guess he survives, but such is Pronzini's skill as a writer, I'm still worrying.
4 from 5
I bought my copy of this book a month or two ago second hand from Amazon.

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