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Crazybone [Hardcover]

Bill Pronzini
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1 2000 A Nameless Detective novel
Posh and affluent, a mecca for the horsy set, the California community of Greenwood hides its dirty laundry behind the stuccoed facades of Spanish-style houses and locks its secrets inside wrought-iron gates. Nameless knows that as well as 7 any, but he uncovers more deceit, adultery, fraud, and betrayal -- not to mention larceny and murder -- than he might have expected in this tautly concocted novel of crime and detection.Yet, even before Nameless visits the handsomely appointed offices of the blond, tanned insurance agent Rich Twining and the estate of the recently widowed Sheila Hunter, his private investigator's suspicions are raised. For why would anyone, however rich and beautiful and bereaved, refuse to claim fifty thousand dollars due in life insurance? The question is simple enough, but the answer lies several murders, many miles, ten years, a devious name game, and one baffling clue -- crazybone -- away.As always, Nameless proves himself the thinking man's detective (Chicago Sun-Times), and his creator, Bill Pronzini, keeps the suspenseful pages turning up to this uncanny novel's moment of revelation.

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From Amazon

Author Bill Pronzini's series PI, known only as "Nameless," has gotten older, grayer, and wiser since he made his first appearance in print. But this case, his 26th, is a first of sorts: a widow who turns down the $50,000 payout from a life insurance policy on her husband, who died in a straightforward enough highway accident caused by a drunk driver. There's nothing fishy about the circumstances of Jack Hunter's death, but something odd turns up when the protagonist looks into Hunter's life: it seems to have started only a decade ago. Sheila Hunter, whose background is equally obscured, is not only not talking, she's deathly afraid. And the only clue Nameless has to go on is one word uttered by the widow before she clams up: "Crazybone."

It's not until the method employed in a series of murders long buried in the Hunters' past is revealed that the meaning of the word (and the title) becomes clear. But before that happens, the couple's 10-year-old daughter convinces the detective that there's more to the story than Sheila Hunter's surprising lack of interest in collecting the money due her--and steals his heart as well. Pronzini is a master craftsman, and his series hero doesn't need a name to make readers accompany him willingly as he steers a moral course through the affluent California setting of his novels. The ending has a small surprise that bodes well for the author's next book; until then, his extensive backlist should keep new "Nameless" fans entertained. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Pronzini is a pro. His Nameless Detective is a characterful narrator, and the northern California settings, here as always, are splendidly realized. This time out an insurance company hires Nameless to check into why Sheila Hunter, a glamorous widow with a small daughter, declined to accept the payout on her late husband's sudden accidental death policy. It turns out that Sheila has her own very good reasons for wanting to remain as anonymous as possible. What to do with her appealing little girl seems her main concern. Nameless finds himself involved more deeply than he wants to be when the woman disappears and the child has no one else to turn to. Meanwhile, the elderly neighbor of his feisty mother-in-law dies mysteriously at their retirement home, and what can he do about that? Needless to say, Nameless solves both crimes, though the subplot seems a little perfunctory. The great pleasure here is the voice: civilized, thoughtful, a tad cranky. Nameless is a keen observer of his fellow man (and woman)Aand by no means someone given to false heroics. He can be funny without being mean or silly (a drunken party scene is priceless) and never fails to play fair with the reader. It's a strong collection of virtues that has carried him through some two dozen expert thrillers, to which this is a fine addition. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right Nov. 25 2003
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Crazybone marks yet another important turning in the Nameless Detective series, a turning that is seldom seen in mystery fiction. Anyone who is a fan of the series should be sure to read this fine book.
If you have not read any other Nameless books, I suggest that you at least read Hoodwink, Double, Shackles and Hardcase before this one. Much of the pleasure of this book comes from the context of the series. You can enjoy Crazybone without that context, but it will be only a 3 star book if you lack the context. I have reviewed almost all of the books in the series (and tried to avoid spoilers) so feel free to look for those comments. The series begins with The Snatch and follows on in order with The Vanished, Undercurrent, Blowback, Twospot, Labyrinth, Hoodwink, Scattershot, Dragonfire, Bindlestiff, Casefile, Quicksilver, Nightshades, Double, Bones, Deadfall, Shackles, Jackpot, Breakdown, Quarry, Epitaphs, Demons, Hardcase, Spadework, Sentinels, Illusions, Boobytrap, Crazybone, Bleeders and Spook.
Any reader who thinks that most men are lecherous will find that this book mostly confirms their convictions.
As Nameless nears 60, he is becoming more crotchety and less in tune with what's going on. In some ways that's good. He's principled in a world in which many are not. On the other hand, he's also unable to open his assistant's computer to get a message. That's really weird to anyone who enjoys the online world.
In recent books, Mr. Pronzini has been adding more and more humor. In Crazybone, you will find one of the funniest descriptions of attending a spouse's company cocktail party that you can imagine. In the process, Nameless even acquires a name (not really his). It would be fun to see what Mr.
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3.0 out of 5 stars the john d mcdonald syndrome Sept. 6 2000
Format:Hardcover
I've liked most all the "Nameless" series of the prolific Bill Pronzini, and as the character has aged and the circumstances of his own life become more prominent in the plots, have liked the books even more. His past problems with his partner made for surprising and tense books; his ongoing relationship with Kerry, his own aging, his life in Sanfrancisco are all of a texture that make all the books' generally limited plots enjoyable. Here the "mystery" is not much of one, the action of the search for a solution as to why an insurance settlement is refused is pretty predictable and the outcome summary; but the domestic part of the book, a young child drawn into Kerry and "Nameless'" life makes for real emotion. So, it's a good book, about the same as most in the series. But what is increasingly less enjoyable in these books (and those by several other writers) is what I call the Travis McGee/John D. McDonald syndrome: lots and lots of social comment, mostly bleak reflections on the decline of American culture into the abyss: lamentations on modern architecture, art, strip malls, juvenile behavior, and on and on. I suppose it's in part an attempt to give the books social substance. It may be a unconscious tribute to Raymond Chandler--but if it is that, it misses the point. Chandler observed the world around him; Nameless and kin are grumpy old curmudgeons, whining about what they don't have, have lost, or don't want. Nor do I like a lot of the emblems of the modern age that they skewer and resent, but muttering and mewling without humor, balance, or, really, relation to the plot at hand is at best distracting, at worst rather pathetic. These are thin books, quick reading; they needn't be so sour.
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4.0 out of 5 stars YOU MUST BE CRAZY Aug. 4 2000
Format:Hardcover
What woman in her right mind would refuse a $50,000 insurance settlement upon the death of her spouse? So what if she is affluent? Fifty-thousand is a nice piece of change. Intercoastal Insurance Company is concerned about this inconsistency. Out of the goodness of their hearts they are willing to give the widow the money without the usual hassle of filling out forms. Of course the family must be squeaky clean and be willing to endorse the goodness of the company.
So Intercoastal sends Nameless down to investigate this grieving widow. Poor Nameless finds more than grief. He ends up stepping in a cesspool of deceit, abuse , negligence and a bond scam that hides itself in the widow's life and community. A few deaths and misplaced identities further muddies the waters for Nameless. In the midst of this is the widow's innocent young daughter who immediately takes a liking to Nameless.
This isn't one of the best of the Nameless series but provides decent entertainment. There are too many murders going on and we're side-tracked with a mystery that Nameless's mother-in-law is trying to solve. In any case you will get into some of the suspenseful action. It could be better.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best One Yet July 30 2000
Format:Hardcover
Why wouldn't a wife accept a $50,000.00 insurance payment from her dead husband's policy? When "Nameless" is hired by the insurance company to find out, and to convince her to take the money, he is greeted by a reaction from the widow that causes him to investigate further, even against his own better judgment (which, by the way, he never follows).
The mystery is first-class Pronzini. There are also digressions into "Nameless'" impending curmudgeonhood which, in the hands of another author would be a real distraction, but from Pronzini are a hilarious insight into the hero's view of life. The description of an advertising agency's cocktail party was laugh-out-loud funny.
The resolution of the story adds an element which is significantly going to interplay with that impending curmudgeonhood over the next several years. I can't wait; please, Bill, write them faster.
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