cover image Hard Case

Hard Case

Bill Pronzini, Bill Prozini. Delacorte Press, $21.95 (215pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30506-8

From a slapstick beginning to an edge-of-your-seat ending, Pronzini (Shackles; Demons) demonstrates why he remains such an enduring force in the genre. The 23rd adventure for his Nameless Detective opens as the California PI, approaching 60, marries his longtime girlfriend, Kerry. After a civil ceremony marked by his nervous clumsiness, Nameless takes on a client who wants him to find her birthparents. Melanie Ann Aldrich has just discovered that she was adopted and is sure there's a reason her adoptive parents, who are deceased, kept this information from her. Nameless fairly quickly identifies the woman's birthparents, but that's just the beginning. Melanie was conceived when a young man raped a disturbed young woman. Nameless discovers that the man, who is now middle-aged and living in a San Jose, Calif., suburb, may be responsible for a series of rapes and murders over a 20-year period. When Nameless's investigation gets too close to the suspect, the women in the case--Melanie, the man's wife and even Kerry--are threatened. Pronzini chillingly captures the volatility of the brutal and truly frightening criminal, a very sick man who hides behind a veil of normalcy. (July)