Hellbox, by Bill Pronzini (2012)

Genre: Mystery
Interest Level: Adult
HellboxIf you have followed this blog for a while, you know that Bill Pronzini is one of my favourite authors – certainly my top choice, followed closely by his wife Marcia Muller, for adult mysteries. This is entry number 37 in the incredible Nameless Detective series, a San Francisco detective in the beloved tradition of hard-boiled private investigators – a loner, an alcoholic, a stubborn believer in right versus wrong, in good over evil, and who has been beat up and bruised as much by life as by the evildoers he pursues. Over the years, we`ve watched Nameless gain control over his drinking, fall in love, and learn to trust in others. It`s that amazing character development that makes this series so astonishing. Read More »

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Kinsmen, by Bill Pronzini (2012)

Genre: Mystery
Interest Level: Adult
KinsmenAnother mystery set in Northern California by the award-winning Bill Pronzini, author of The Other Side of Silence and approximately 35 titles in the Nameless Detective series. In this novella (under 200 pages with big print in this edition), originally written in the early 1990s, Nameless is hired to find out what happened to Allison Shay, a college student travelling home with her boyfriend from Eugene, Oregon to the San Francisco Bay area. They never made it. Nameless heads to northeast California, where they were last seen. He finds a nasty little town full of nasty little people, and slowly but surely uncovers the nasty truth, earning a few bumps in the process, to his body and his soul. Read More »

The Other Side of Silence, by Bill Pronzini (2008, 2010)

Genre: Mystery
Interest Level: Adult
The Other Side of SilenceA little over a year ago I read and reviewed (and loved) The Hidden, a winter mystery by Bill Pronzini set on California’s foggy north coast. This time, the grand master of mystery and suspense sharpens his pencil and aims it in the other direction – Death Valley and the Mojave desert. Rick Fallon is reeling from the death of his son and the end of his marriage. After signing the divorce papers, he heads to the desert to regroup. But his plans for back-country hiking and camping are interrupted when he finds an abandoned car and a suicide note. Desperate to prove something within himself, he sets off to find the troubled soul and succeeds, just in time to save her life. Read More »

The Hidden, by Bill Pronzini (2010)

Genre: Mystery
Interest level: Adult
The HiddenHere’s the winter equivalent of a beach read. Bill Pronzini, the well-deserved recipient of most crime and mystery writing awards, has created a thriller set on the stormy California coast, involving a serial killer, a couple with marital problems and a houseful of dysfunctional neighbours. Other than giving us too much information at the beginning about the Coastline Killer, Pronzini lets the tension build slowly, focusing on the couple with the rocky marriage as the protagonists, using shifting perspectives to narrate the story, really a study of relationships, both good and bad. As mentioned, he reveals too much too early. A better choice might have been to skip the introduction, and instead let us wonder who the killer actually is. Read More »

Burn Out, by Marcia Muller (2008)

Genre: Mystery
Interest Level: Adult
Burn OutAnother Sharon McCone mystery by Marcia Muller, who also penned City of Whispers which I reviewed more than a year ago. This one is much stronger. Sharon owns a highly successful private investigation firm, with several operatives handling multiple cases from missing persons to identity theft. She has just come off a particularly troubling case and finds herself questioning her life’s work. Depression is taking a firm hold, and Sharon has hightailed it to her husband’s ranch in the Sierra Nevada desert country. Against her better judgment she finds herself looking for her ranch hand’s niece, Amy Perez, who is missing after an altercation with her boyfriend. Along with murder, Sharon uncovers long-held secrets and shameful pasts as she determines to find the truth about Amy and her mother Haley. Read More »

City of Whispers, by Marcia Muller (2011)

Genre: Mystery
Interest level: Adult
City of WhispersIf you haven’t discovered the Sharon McCone series by Marcia Muller yet, this is probably not the one to start with. This is the 28th in the series by the author who first set the standard for the modern, hard-boiled female detective, a standard followed by Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton and others. In this novel, Muller again explores Sharon’s family relationships as she seeks to find her missing half-brother who sends her a plea for help from an Internet cafe in San Francisco, a city he’s never been to before. Sharon lives in the city by the bay, and Muller’s love for the city comes through as she intertwines her plot with descriptions of its streets, neighbourhoods, buildings, history, and conflicts new and old. Read More »