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"We need to make books cool again. If you go home with someone & they don't have books, don't fuck 'em."--John Waters

I'm the author of more than twenty novels including SHADOW SEASON, THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE, THE MIDNIGHT ROAD, THE DEAD LETTERS, and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN. Look for my next one THE LAST KIND WORDS due out May '12 from Bantam Books. Contact: PicSelf1@aol.com

Friday, July 8, 2011

Camouflage by Bill Pronzini

Every time I finish off a Bill Pronzini novel I proclaim that it’s one of his best. And I do not lie. There’s a reason why he was elected a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master a couple of years back. The man raised the bar on himself and crime fiction decades ago and keeps it as high today as he ever has. Case in point, his latest Nameless Detective novel CAMOUFLAGE.

CAMOUFLAGE is a spot-on title that perfectly illustrates the theme of the novel’s two side-by-side plotlines. We’re talking about sociopaths who hide their inner evil from the rest of the world beneath a so-called normal exterior.

Nameless and his partner Tamara are asked by obnoxious well-to-do David Virden to hunt down the third of his three ex-wives so he can have the marriage annulled, leaving him free and clear to marry wife #4, an heiress who will set him up for life. However, after wife #3 is found Virden claims that Nameless and co. have made a mistake and he’s never met this woman before in his life. Soon after, Virden disappears, leaving Nameless and Tamara to wonder exactly what’s going on. Is it a case of mistaken identity, identity theft, or something much more sinister?

Meanwhile, employee Jake Runyon is taking care of a personal matter dealing with Bobby, his new lady interest Bryn’s son, who appears to be the victim of abuse. Covered in bruises and with a recently fractured arm, Bobby refuses to discuss the matter with his mother. Jake steps in to offer the kid some much needed guidance that Bobby isn’t getting from Bryn’s ex-husband, and he slowly earns the boy’s trust. Soon Jake is dealing with a psycho with a past full of cruelty and eventually finds himself knee-deep in murder.

The set-ups are relatively simplistic until you realize just how much truth, honesty, and humanity Pronzini has filled the novel with. In an age of thriller material that whips by at bullet train speed, the author purposefully slows the pace of his work in order to concentrate on authentic motivations, reactions, fears, and perplexities. Nameless has never been a brawling, gun-toting superman, and as he’s grown older he’s become even more of a sympathetic understandable everyman kind of character. Therein lies the strength of the series, and our unflagging interest in Bill Pronzini’s discerning, heart-felt literature.


Al Leverone said...

I discovered Bill Pronzini maybe twenty years ago when I was browsing the library, looking for something to read that was a little different. I read one of his Nameless Detective novels - I forget which one - and couldn't put it down.

When I was finished, I immediately brought it back and picked out another, then another. I couldn't believe I had never heard of this author whose writing was so tight.

I haven't read any Pronzini in a while, guess it's time to check him out again...

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