Wednesday, July 24, 2013

NEMESIS by Bill Pronzini; The Rap Sheet

Nemesis (Nameless Detective) by Bill Pronzini

It's very close to a law that many series begin to fade in ingenuity and passion before their creators finally give up on them.
  Since moving to Forge Bill Pronzini has recreated his Nameless books, giving them new feature characters and new structures in the telling of the stories.
  NEMESIS is one of my all-time favorite Nameless novels. Here we meet one of Pronzini's most fascinatingly drawn (and devious) women the lovely Verity Daniels who would make any sane man suspicious because of the way she comes on to him in her disturbed amused way and because right from the start her story seems shaky. There is, she claims, somebody trying to extort her though she can't imagine how in all her innocence she could be blackmailed being such a fine upstanding person including having nothing to do with the death of her fiance.

    Jake Runyon (a complex, believable character) handles the case as Nameless' partner in the agency (Nameless is tending to Kerry who is still dealing with the trauma of her kidnapping from the last novel--Pronzini skillfully merges elements of two books). But Verity soon proves to be unhelpful,the supposed blackmailer doesn't show up and Runyon extricates himself from the suspicious case.

    Then Verity claims that Runyon raped her and is soon after found murdered. Runyon is of course the number one suspect at which point Tamara Corbin (who not only runs the office but also proves vital to solving some of the cases) and Nameless join together to rescue Runyon from the murder charge.

     The three act structure, with each act propelled by a different agency character and powerful insights into detectives and suspects alike, make this, first of all, a page-turner and second of all an example of how a master (a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master in fact) can revitalize a long running series. And in this case demonstrate that Bill Pronzini is a more commanding stylist than ever.

     Flat out five stars for a winner in every respect. 

-----------THE RAP SHEET

For those of you interested in the second part of my interview with J. Kingston Pierce (from last night)


Ben Boulden said...

Pronzini is flat out awesome. His work is never flat, and it always amazes me how he can keep the Nameless novels fresh and interesting.

Mathew Paust said...

You got me hooked on Bill Pronzini's "Nameless Detective" series, and I look forward to reading Nemesis -- after I read Flashpoint! Love Pierce's interview.