I typed this to myself after finishing STRANGERS.
"I'd put this in the top five of the Nameless
novels. For me it is the one most like Pronzini's masterpiece
BLUE LONESOME. That poetic bleakness and despair. Mineral Springs
isn't a town, it's a prison camp. And the characters are some of his
strongest ever. And most subtle. A major, masterful work."
This is a mordant trip into the past for Nameless.
Cheryl Rosmond was Nameless' lover twenty years ago--one of the most serious loves of his life--but then constrained by moral duty he revealed to Police that her brother Doug was a murderer. Doug killed himself. Cheryl never forgave Nameless and left him.
But now Cheryl's last name is Hatcher and her son Cody is suspected of being the rapist of three women in Mineral Springs, Nevada. With both the Sheriff and the townspeople convinced that Cody, who is anything but a saint, Cheryl pleads with Nameless to come help her.
Pronzini is the master chronicler of San Francisco but he's equally adept in bringing small towns to dark and secretive life as well.
His people drive the story. From the Sheriff who has no doubts about his own judgment; to the ignorant but cunning man (one of Pronzini's finest creations) to what to marry Cheryl; to numerous former friends of Cody's who betray him without compunction; to Cheryl herself who proves to be a very different woman from the one Nameless imagined...this is a bitter and desperate trip into the darkest regions of classic noir.
Quoting myself: A major masterful work.