Deaths among the homeless don't usually provoke background probes. But when a transient known as Spook (because "he had ghosts living inside his head") is shot outside the offices of a San Francisco film-industry supplier, employees there want to know why. "He didn't have a mean bone in his body," one staffer assures Bill Pronzini's Nameless Detective in Spook
. So was this just the random slaying of a street crazy, or had someone from Spook's unknown past--maybe Dot or Luke, the apparitions he was always jabbering to--finally come gunning for him?
In Nameless' 28th novel-length outing, but his first since the pivotal Bleeders (in which he almost hung up his gumshoes for good), Pronzini's classically wrought sleuth is preparing for semiretirement, turning over responsibilities to his young PI partner, Tamara Corbin. He's also breaking in a new investigator, reserved ex-cop and widower Jake Runyon, to whom he hands off the identity search--little knowing how quickly that case will turn ugly, linking the "gentle, friendly" Spook to the murder of another homeless man and a long-ago triple homicide in the California Sierras. Meanwhile, Nameless finishes up a high-profile dig into questionable practices among city employees. This secondary plot lacks the intrigue of Runyon's task; however, both investigations generate action, including a hostage situation and a not-so-merry chase during a Christmas benefit. More than two decades after this series' initial installment, The Snatch, Nameless's assignments have become less conventional, and he's been mellowed by age, marriage, and too much death. Yet, even at age 61, he's more vital than many newer, less deservedly cynical competitors. --J. Kingston Pierce
From Publishers Weekly
Hints of the Nameless Detective's death or forced retirement in his last book, Bleeders (2002), turn out to be premature. (He isn't all that nameless, either-everyone calls him Bill. Could his last name be an Italian one ending in "ini"?) Nameless is slowing down, though, while the central plot of this 28th book in the honored series is one or two twists short of exciting. Hired by a San Francisco filmmaker to discover the identity of a gentle, spook-haunted homeless man shot to death in the production company's doorway where he camped out at night, Nameless spends far too many pages doing just that and far too few offering alternative possibilities for the murder other than the glaringly obvious one: realistic, maybe, but certainly not riveting. Perhaps building a foundation for a series without Nameless, who talks often about "semi-retirement" as he approaches 60, Pronzini gives his hero's young partner, Tamara Corbin, more to do this time out. Unfortunately, it mostly involves being nasty to her family and associates after hitting a speed bump in the road of love. A new addition to the agency staff, Jake Runyon, a seasoned Seattle investigator trying to connect with a lost son, is more appealing here. Three-time Shamus Award-winner Pronzini can still capture the sleazy underside of San Francisco's glitz as quickly and as well as anyone, so, Nameless lives-at least for one more book.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.