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One of the great mysteries of the publishing world is why so many of the terrific "Nameless Detective" books by Bill Pronzini are out of print. At least three--Hardcase, Illusions, and a collection called Spadework--are available, however. And, luckily, Boobytrap has the same clipped, resonant dialogue (a cross between Chandler and David Mamet), the understated but gripping action scenes, and the offhand noir wisdom as the rest of the series, as the always unnamed but rarely outgunned San Francisco private detective accepts a free fishing vacation in a High Sierra cabin and finds himself part of the revenge scheme of a particularly crafty mad bomber. Unlike many series heroes, "Nameless" has aged realistically ("Almost sixty years old and as horny as a teenager," says his ladyfriend), and the suicide of his partner in Illusions still troubles him. "In a way it was good, necessary that I would never forget: all that he was and all that he wasn't were a lesson to me. That was why I'd kept his fishing gear, the one tangible piece of him. It was why I'd never get rid of it. And it was why I'd never use even a single item." No wonder Pronzini has won Shamus Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers Association of America. --Dick Adler
On a fishing trip to Deep Mountain Lake in the High Sierras, Pronzini's San Francisco-based Nameless Detective pursues a crash course with a psychotic bomber just released from prison and bent on revenge. Nameless, seen last in Illusions (1997), is called Bill here?once?by 12-year-old Chuck Dixon. Chuck and his mother are staying in a cabin near Nameless's, waiting for Chuck's father, an assistant DA in San Francisco, to join them. Readers are privy to the journals of David Michael Latimer, the bomber who has targeted the judge and a lawyer who sent him to jail for bombing attacks on his ex-wife and her lover. Latimer's ingenious boobytraps have killed both men, and his next target, Chuck's dad, isn't aware of the danger he faces. Pronzini gradually draws the principals in his plot together near Deep Mountain Lake, first with the death of the retired local sheriff, which disquiets Nameless, and then with the odd behavior of a few newcomers, who variously spark the PI's suspicions. When one of these unlikely fishermen plans a trip with Chuck, Nameless replaces his fiberglass rod with a metal one. Approaching 60, Nameless is aging with grace and sensitivity and no loss of his macho appeal. Pronzini plays his readers expertly, hooking them with a credible cast and setting his plot line with just the right amount of tension.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.