Crazybone Hardcover – Jul 1 2000
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
Clearly Mr. Pronzini has come a long way since his early days because this one from 2000, the 26th in the series, is nothing like the 2009 & 2011 stories. Frankly, if it had been the first one I read I wouldn't have been interested in any others.
Where the later ones show a clever sharpness in the writing & composition, this earlier one is bogged down in unnecessary descriptions of people, places & things, even in what may very well be Mr. Pronzini's personal musings about the times. Chapter 7 in its entirety could have been omitted since it seemingly had nothing whatsoever to do with anything.
Even the `mystery' felt a little diluted. The child Emily was the one spark in this otherwise uninspiring, over-written addition to the series.
This disappointed me after the first two were so enjoyable. Strange, authors usually get washed-out the longer they stay with a series, in this case it seems to be the opposite.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
When I started reading Bill Pronzini's Nameless Detective series earlier this year, 27 books seemed like an awful lot to plow through. Read morePublished on Sept. 2 2000 by Kinsey Millhone
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... Read morePublished on July 30 2000 by Dr. Linda S. Grilli