Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ray's Reviews: Strangers by Bill Pronzini

"Strangers" (Forge, $24.99) by multiple award-winning author Bill Pronzini is the 43rd book in his popular series starring his Nameless Detective.

This time out, the semi-retired private detective and former cop is out to help Cheryl, an old lover, who's now living in Nevada.

Her teen-aged son Cody has been accused of three rapes and is in jail; Cheryl is sure he's innocent and contacts Nameless in San Francisco.

Leaving his wife and adopted daughter, Nameless travels to the small town of Mineral Springs. He stops and gets information from Cheryl, discovering that she's being harassed by vindictive townspeople who are sure that Cody is guilty.

The local sheriff has stopped looking for any other possible suspects and warns Nameless not to interfere with the case.

The district attorney in the case won't let Nameless talk to Cheryl's son, even with Cody's inept lawyer present. The private eye digs deeper, questioning Cody's friends and associates.

Few rush to Cody's defense, as the teenager has a bad reputation in town. The nameless Detective tries to follow up on different leads but gets minimal results. Soon, it becomes pretty obvious that someone is out to stop him from discovering the truth.

Nameless tries to talk to the rape victims but has little success. The sheriff is getting angrier - he feels he's got a slam-dunk case against Cody.

The small town of Mineral Springs offers an intriguing background for various assorted crimes; it's a haven for gambling and prostitution with multiple gold mines in the area.

There's also a heavy-handed religious group, drug-trafficking and Survivalists, so it's no surprise when tension rises and violence flares: Nameless becomes a moving target.

Pronzini's Nameless Detective is one of the few crime characters that have actually aged as the series has progressed. While it helps to read the series in order, it's not essential, except for enjoying the character's growth.

The author has won many major awards for his works in crime fiction, including the 2008 Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He's edited 90 anthologies, published over 300 short stories and has also written Western fiction.

This is a carefully-crafted, enjoyable crime novel rife with strong characters, flowing emotions and deadly action.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop,
has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.
Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on July 13, 2014.

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