cover image Epitaphs


Bill Pronzini. Delacorte Press, $19 (232pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30504-4

With unerring plotting and an unabashedly retro narrative style, Pronzini ( Quarry ) moves his San Francisco-based ``Nameless Detective'' ever closer to the mortality the book's title suggests. Now nearing 60, work-driven, solitary and often scared, Nameless is watching a game of North Beach bocce when one of the oldsters asks him to help a granddaughter who has been accused of stealing money. Gianna Fornessi proves tough to locate. Her apartment is fancier than an unemployed single girl's should be, and she is mysteriously ``away''; her roommate is at first indifferent, then is found dead. The girls' profession becomes clear as a paper-and-phone chase leads Nameless to a series of pimps, porn publishers and customers. In his own life, meanwhile, Nameless grows closer to his woman friend Kerry's elderly mother and more distant from his longtime partner, Eberhardt, who is still steamed over an argument and is thinking about striking out on his own. Pronzini has made the dogged, blinkered existence of a detective his exclusive domain in this relentlessly grim yet thoroughly absorbing series. (Nov.)