“Vixen” by Bill Pronzini (Forge Books, $24.99) is the 40th novel in his popular series starring the Nameless Detective, a hard-working San Francisco-based private eye.
Due to be released on Tuesday, Pronzini’s novel showcases Cory Beckett, a beautiful seductress with devious plans.
Cory’s brother Kenneth has been arrested, accused of stealing a $20,000 diamond necklace that belonged to the wife of wealthy yachtsman Andrew Vorhees.
Kenneth has jumped bail; Cory goes to the bail bondsman, who hires the private investigator to track him down. Cory is a scheming femme fatale who has her own specific demands.
The Nameless Detective is staying out of his the office a lot, trying to retire, but other members of his agency jump in and jointly work on locating Kenneth.
Jake Runyon, a grizzled veteran investigator, goes on the road and finds him, discovering that Kenneth isn’t exactly as Cory has described him.
|Bill Pronzini at a book singing.|
Her brother has a completely different story about the theft and says he’s innocent.
The carefully-crafted mystery gets more complicated when Cory brings along factory owner Frank Chaleen, her secret lover, to pick up Kenneth.
Meanwhile, the Nameless Detective goes and visits Mrs. Vorhees, trying to gather more useful information, with unexpected results.
Agency operatives do further checking into Cory’s past, uncovering disconcerting facts, delving into her two earlier marriages and the mesmerizing effects of her sexual attraction.
Runyon and the Nameless Detective get more involved in the case than they ever wanted; the body count rises as the tension mounts.
Told from varying viewpoints. Pronzini’s new novel also has a sub-plot related to the death of a relative, pulp magazines and long-overdue recognition.
If you haven’t read any of Pronzini’s Nameless Detective books, it’s not too late to start; his novels are fast, enjoyable reading.
While it’s always fascinating to follow the development of characters, with 40 books in the series, (plus some collections of short stories,) you don’t really have to read them in order.
The author is one of America’s best crime fiction authors and has won many of the genre’s most prestigious writing awards.
In 2008, Pronzini received the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He and his wife, crime novelist Marcia Muller, live and write in California.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.
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This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on June 21, 2015.