Monday, March 26, 2012

HELLBOX by Bill Pronzini

Few writers depict modern terrors as well as Bill Pronzini and in HELLBOX the fear of unhinged outsiders suddenly swooping down and changing the lives of average people becomes a page-turning and frightening journey.

The man's name is Pete Balfour. You've read about his kind many times in the papers and seen it on TV. The loner who is also a hater. Sometimes he kills abortion doctors or blows up Planned Parenthood sites. Just this weekend this weeekend such a man kicked in a church door and stormed in with a rifle. Fortunately he was subdued before he could fire.

In HELLBOX Bill (Nameless) and Kerry travel to the small town of Six Pines where they are considering buying a vacation home. Things turn bad quickly. Pete Balfour, mocked by the townspeople, decides it's time for vengeance. ,Among other things he kidnaps Kerry because she happened to be in the way. If you remember Bill Pronzini's masterful SHACKLES you have some sense of the horrors that lie ahead for Kerry. In order to find her, the local officials busy with another case, Bill enlists Jake Runyon one of his people at the detective agency. Runyon has two jobs--to find Kerry and to keep Bill from going berserk as they search.

Every element of the novel works. The Kerry scenes are especially vivid; Bill Pronzini writes particularly well about women. You're right there with Kerry as she tries to gather herself and fight back against a madman. Early on in his career Pronzini learned how to perfectly pace a novel using multiple viewpoints. He gets better and better at it and here you're flipping the pages as fast as you can.

There's a reason the Mystery Writers of America named Bill Pronzini a Grand Master. All you need to do is read a few chapters of HELLBOX and you'll know why.

BTW Great cover!

1 comment:

Don McArthur said...

Your Bill Pronzini reviews have piqued my interest and I've just downloaded a couple of samples to my iPad. Thanks for the head's up.