Thursday, March 20, 2014
Forgotten Books: EPITAPHS by Bill Pronzini
Epitaphs is one of my favorite Nameless novels for a number of reasons.
For one thing this is one of Pronzini's finest depictions of Nameless' painfully complex relationship with his old partner Eberhardt. The anger, the distrust makes you feel sorry for both of them.
Then there's the even more serious problem of his friend and lover Kerry not wanting to marry him.
The novel is also a fine depiction of how Nameless' North Beach is changing and is being refurbished not only commercially but also sociologically. Proninzi writes with real power about how the Italian heritage he obviously reveres is also suffering because of the changes.
Then there's the story and it's one of Pronzini's most skillfully conceived and maneuvered. Gianna Fornessi is the name of the beautiful granddaughter who is missing. A mutual friend of Namless' asks him to help the grandfather who fears for her.
When he finds where she lives Nameless also realizes that something is wrong. She came from a humble area of North Beach but lives in a style fitting a much more moneyed life.
From this hook Pronzini takes us through enough ruses, masques, dead ends and mysterious but enigmatic clues to fill three or four average novels. And he does so with prose so evocative of both place and passion that you race to the end.
One of Bill Pronzini's finest novels and I don't have to say much more than that, do I?