At the start of this hard-edged novella from MWA Grand Master Pronzini, the unnamed PI hero of his long-running series (Hellbox, etc.) muses on femme fatales. After more than 40 years of detecting, Nameless never expected to cross paths with one, until his bail bondsman friend, Abe Melikian, introduces him to 28-year-old Cory Beckett (“A deadly woman who brought a couple of new twists to the species”). Melikian wants Nameless to track down Beckett’s younger brother, Kenneth, who has jumped bail on a charge of stealing a diamond necklace worth $20,000. The jewelry belonged to the alcoholic wife of San Francisco union leader and power broker Andrew Vorhees, who employed Kenneth to tend to his yacht. The devious Beckett’s scheme and persona aren’t unusual enough to make her that memorable a villainess, but few will be able to forget the image of her revealed on the last page. (Dec.)
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