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Spook: A "Nameless Detective" Novel Hardcover – 1 Dec 2002

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers (Dec. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786710861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786710867
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 16 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,719,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Bill Pronzini is simply one of the masters. He seems to have taken a crack at just about every genre: mysteries, noirish thrillers, historicals, locked-room mysteries, adventure novels, spy capers, men's action, westerns, and, of course, his masterful, long-running Nameless private detective series, now entering its fourth decade, with no signs of creative flagging. He's also ghosted several Brett Halliday short stories as Michael Shayne for Mike Shayne's Mystery Magazine, and has managed to collaborate with such fellow writers as John Lutz, Barry Wahlberg, Collin Wilcox and Marcia Muller. Still, if he never ventured into fiction writing, his non-fiction work, as both writer and editor, would still earn him a place in the P.I. genre's Hall of Fame. Besides his two tributes to some of the very worst in crime fiction (what he calls "alternative classics"), Gun in Cheek and Son of Gun in Cheek, and one on western fiction (entitled Six Gun in Cheek, naturally), he's the co-author (with Marcia Muller) of 1001 Midnights. The Mystery Writers of America have nominated him for Edgar Awards several times and his work has been translated into numerous languages and he's published in almost thirty countries. He was the very first president of the Private Eye Writers of America, and he's received three Shamus Awards from them, as well as its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. His passion for the old crime pulps is largely responsible for keeping them in the public's eye. He's amassed a huge collection of books and magazines and has always been an omnivorous reader; all of which made him a natural when it came to editing various anthologies. He admits "it was a pleasure tracking down good stories to fit a particular anthology theme." But after editing 80 or so of them over a period of twenty-some years, he decided it was "more than enough." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback
Seldom does a wonderful series like that of the Nameless Detective suddenly add an exciting character who makes you anxious for the next book. If you've liked any of the books in this series, you must read this one . . . because it is the beginning of much potential for the future.
Nameless is back and he's called by a name throughout. He's in the process of moving towards retirement . . . beginning with semi-retirement. To facilitate the changes, he's taken his former assistant, Tamara, as his partner. They need to hire a new operative to help handle the street work that Nameless did in the past. After considering two potential men, Tamara insists that they hire Jake Runyon, a silent-as-the-grave ex-cop, ex-detective who looks like he's just lost his last friend.
Jake turns out to be the kind of dandy character that Raymond Chandler would have been glad to write about. He loves the grime of the streets and the challenge of the chase. He's smart, tough, focused and self-contained. But he hurts, and his work is his therapy. You'll enjoy learning about him.
The action in the book centers on the murder of a street person named Spook who talks to ghosts. I especially enjoyed the way that several people contributed to identifying Spook. It's imaginative problem solving at its best.
Each of the detectives has personal issues that develop in interesting ways. Nameless is having trouble deciding how to wind down his work and deal with his need to be a lone wolf. Tamara is shaken to the core when her boyfriend decides to move to Philadelphia and proposes marriage. Jake is looking to make a connection with his estranged son while grieving for his lost love.
I don't want to say any more because the prose and story line are so smooth and balanced.
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By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Jun. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Seldom does a wonderful series like that of the Nameless Detective suddenly add an exciting character who makes you anxious for the next book. If you've liked any of the books in this series, you must read this one . . . because it is the beginning of much potential for the future.
Nameless is back and he's called by a name throughout. He's in the process of moving towards retirement . . . beginning with semi-retirement. To facilitate the changes, he's taken his former assistant, Tamara, as his partner. They need to hire a new operative to help handle the street work that Nameless did in the past. After considering two potential men, Tamara insists that they hire Jake Runyon, a silent-as-the-grave ex-cop, ex-detective who looks like he's just lost his last friend.
Jake turns out to be the kind of dandy character that Raymond Chandler would have been glad to write about. He loves the grime of the streets and the challenge of the chase. He's smart, tough, focused and self-contained. But he hurts, and his work is his therapy. You'll enjoy learning about him.
The action in the book centers on the murder of a street person named Spook who talks to ghosts. I especially enjoyed the way that several people contributed to identifying Spook. It's imaginative problem solving at its best.
Each of the detectives has personal issues that develop in interesting ways. Nameless is having trouble deciding how to wind down his work and deal with his need to be a lone wolf. Tamara is shaken to the core when her boyfriend decides to move to Philadelphia and proposes marriage. Jake is looking to make a connection with his estranged son while grieving for his lost love.
I don't want to say any more because the prose and story line are so smooth and balanced.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 May 2004
Format: Hardcover
Seldom does a wonderful series like that of the Nameless Detective suddenly add an exciting character who makes you anxious for the next book. If you've liked any of the books in this series, you must read this one . . . because it is the beginning of much potential for the future.
Nameless is back and is in the process of moving towards retirement . . . beginning with semi-retirement. To facilitate the changes, he's taken his assistant, Tamara, as his partner. They need to hire a new operative to help handle the street work that Nameless did in the past. After considering two potential men, Tamara insists that they hire Jake Runyon, a silent-as-the-grave ex-cop, ex-detective who looks like he's just lost his last friend.
Jake turns out to be the kind of dandy character that Raymond Chandler would have been glad to write about. He loves the grime of the streets and the challenge of the chase. He's smart, tough, focused and self-contained. But he hurts, and his work is his therapy. You'll enjoy learning about him.
The action in the book centers on the murder of a street person named Spook who talks to ghosts. I especially enjoyed the way that several people contributed to identifying Spook. It's imaginative problem solving at its best.
Each of the detectives has personal issues that develop in interesting ways. Bill is having trouble deciding how to wind down his work and deal with his need to be a lone wolf. Tamara is shaken to the core when her boyfriend decides to move to Philadelphia and proposes marriage. Jake is looking to make a connection with his estranged son while grieving for his lost love.
I don't want to say any more because the prose and story line are so smooth and balanced. You should be able to enjoy the development without interruption from me.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x98291e10) out of 5 stars 19 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9832e018) out of 5 stars The Nameless Detective Acquires a New Op 16 Sept. 2003
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Seldom does a wonderful series like that of the Nameless Detective suddenly add an exciting character who makes you anxious for the next book. If you've liked any of the books in this series, you must read this one . . . because it is the beginning of much potential for the future.
Nameless is back (and called "Bill"). He's in the process of moving towards retirement . . . beginning with semi-retirement. To facilitate the changes, he's taken his former assistant, Tamara, as his partner. They need to hire a new operative to help handle the street work that Nameless did in the past. After considering two potential men, Tamara insists that they hire Jake Runyon, a silent-as-the-grave ex-cop, ex-detective who looks like he's just lost his last friend.
Jake turns out to be the kind of dandy character that Raymond Chandler would have been glad to write about. He loves the grime of the streets and the challenge of the chase. He's smart, tough, focused and self-contained. But he hurts, and his work is his therapy. You'll enjoy learning about him.
The action in the book centers on the murder of a street person named Spook who talks to ghosts. I especially enjoyed the way that several people contributed to identifying Spook. It's imaginative problem solving at its best.
Each of the detectives has personal issues that develop in interesting ways. Bill is having trouble deciding how to wind down his work and deal with his need to be a lone wolf. Tamara is shaken to the core when her boyfriend decides to move to Philadelphia and proposes marriage. Jake is looking to make a connection with his estranged son while grieving for his lost love.
I don't want to say any more because the prose and story line are so smooth and balanced. You should be able to enjoy the development without interruption from me.
Fans of Marcia Muller (Mr. Pronzini's wife) will be delighted to see that Bill and Sharon McCone end up working together on a case. It's neat!
After you finish this wonderful novel, I suggest that you think about what you will regret if you don't change your ways. How can you begin making the necessary changes?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9832e06c) out of 5 stars The Nameless One Is Winding Down? 28 May 2007
By Russ Heitz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Nameless Detective is clearly starting to feel his age in this one. The gritty, rundown parts of the city are starting to depress him. So are the seedy and hopeless people he often has to deal with. This particular case involves the senseless and brutal murder of a homeless man named Spook. But instead of handling the case himself, as he has done for many years, Nameless has now enlisted the help of two assistants.

One of his helpers is an assertive and streetwise black woman named Tamara who has become a full partner in Nameless's detective agency. In keeping with Tamara's promotion, several sections of the book are now seen through Tamara's eyes exclusively. Nameless has also hired an assistant named Jake Runyon, whose personal problems are reminiscent of the problems that Nameless himself has experienced in the past. Runyon, too, now has several sections of the book turned over to him.

This is a somewhat startling change from previous Nameless novels, which were told through a first-person narrator who refused to reveal his own name. That meant everything that happened in previous novels was seen through the eyes and mind of this anonymous detective. Not so with this one.

Like his other Nameless novels, however, Pronzini's hand is still the guiding force behind this long-lived series. And once again, he has filled the story with an interesting assortment of colorful characters with names like Pinkeye, Big Dog, and Lightfoot. He also includes a black classical cellist named Horace. And speaking of names, one of the surprises in this story is that Pronzini finally, subtly, and quietly reveals the name of Nameless.

Typical of Pronzini's other novels, Spook has a number of interesting subplots that always add unexpected twists and turns to the story. One of the subplots in Spook includes both Nameless and another P.I. named Sharon McCone. What's interesting is that Sharon McCone is the lead character in another popular detective series, this one written by Pronzini's own real-life wife, Marcia Muller. So in this instance we have two fictional characters from two different P.I. series, and they're both working together on the same fictional case. It's kind of like having the Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy working together to solve a bank heist.

Pronzini is clearly one of the old-time masters of the hard-boiled P.I. genre. All of his characters are exceptionally well drawn, real, and true-to-life. His descriptions are brief, stark, and easy to visualize. And his well-structured, solid, and suspenseful framework will keep you turning the pages, long after you should have turned out the light.

The saddest part of Spook is the realization that an excellent series is coming to an end. Don't miss this one. It's still Pronzini at his best.

Russ Heitz

[...]
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9865b6e4) out of 5 stars Polished and humane entry in the quality series 18 Jun. 2004
By F. J. Harvey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Bill Pronzini has in the Nameless Detective created a fihure who unlike many similar series protagonists ages as the series progresses and in this book he is 61 years old and on the verge of semi-retirement .To this end he and his streetwise young black partner Tamara engage another operative ,the troubled Jake Runyon .Runyan is still in a state of depression following the death through cancer of his second wife and has returned to San Francisco to try and rebuild a relationship with his gay son from whom he is estranged .
The man case concerns the death of a harmless street person ,Spook ,who is murdered in the entryway to a low rent film company whose proproetor engages the agency to trace his identity .
The bulk of the investigative work is undertaken by Runyan who , after encounters with the more violent and psychotic aspects of the homeless world ,in thr form of the vicious " Big Dog " traces the origins of the killing to an incident some 20 years previously in which 3 people were gunnned down in a remote Clifornia town .This not only points up the true identity of the deceased Spook but enables his slayer to be traced .
This is polished and proficient in its unravelling but is not the only starnd to the book -there is a sub -plot which sees Nameless co-operating with Sharon McCone ( a creation of the authors wife ,Marcia Muller ) in acase exposing City corruption .
Much of the book is taken up with the personal problems of Tamara whose relationship with cellist boyfriend Horace is in trouble ,and with Runyan' s situation as he tries to rebuild his life
There is an air of transition hanging over the book and it seems to be that Pronzini is about to retire his character and maybe start a new series cenred on Tamara and Jake
Its a mellow and thoughtful book shot through with realistic compasssion and seems to point the way to a new development in the career of its prolific and reliable author
Satisfying as a mystery and a well wrought and compassionate study of lives in transition
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9865bad4) out of 5 stars this is not a knock down masterpiece, but it is very good 9 July 2005
By clifford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really am enjoying getting into this series. Perhaps I am going about it in the wrong way, seeing as how I am starting with the last couple of books, rather than the first. But so far this has had zero impact on my ability to become engrossed with Pronzini and his gift at turning a tale. `'Spook' and `Bleeders' are the only two I have read thus far. `Bleeders' was just great because of his quiet and unexpected ending. ` Spook' is on the other hand even simpler than `Bleeders' in a lot of ways. And I like that. It's sort of a counter measure against all of the cookie cutter thrillers dealing with tired serial killer plots. `'Spook' does let the reader down a little because it feels like Pronzini is slowly winding down his series here. It's my own fault for not starting in the beginning. It does have a little less character development or conflict than I would have liked, but hey, this is the 28th book.

All I have really to say that this was a fun book to read. If you have read too many mysteries and thrillers like I have, I think that you will really enjoy getting into Pronzini. I am really looking forwards to the first couple in this series and expect to find a character kind of like Block's early Matthew Scudder.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9865ba68) out of 5 stars A great way to start the new year 23 Jan. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
What better way to start 2003 off than with a brand new Nameless Detective novel, especially since we all thought his last book was the end of the series. In "Spook", Nameless, along with his soon-to-be partner Tamara and new field operative Jake Runyon, are trying to track down the identity of a murdered homeless man. Interspersed throughout the story are personal episodes of all three main characters. Nameless, one of the world's most socially shy butterflies, is persuaded to attend a Christmas charity event with of all people his old friend Sharon McCone and in the bargain saves her from losing a case. Tamara is faced with a huge decision: her boyfriend is pressuring her to marry him and move back east but she isn't sure she wants to give up a job she loves. Jake is still brooding over the death of his wife and the antagonism of his son. All this gives a new and warm twist to the usual Nameless books. To further add to the twist, Nameless's real name is slipped into the story several times! "Spook" is one of Pronzini's best!
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