cover image Quarry


Bill Pronzini. Delacorte Press, $18 (216pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30519-8

Pronzini's ( Breakdown ) brisk, efficient, action-packed mystery is set on the earthquake-ravaged San Francisco waterfront and in the now-arid salad-bowl country to the south. Here the Nameless Detective hunts for a methodical, brutal stranger who is pursuing withdrawn Grady Haas, 31, daughter of rancher Arlo Haas, the detective's old friend. Secretive Grady won't tell why she has suddenly left her job as an insurance adjuster specializing in marine claims and returned to the Salinas Valley . Nameless finds that her San Francisco apartment has been thoroughly tossed. All he has to go on are the three claims Grady had been investigating and her ex-boyfriend's savage beating by a stranger seeking Grady's whereabouts. Nameless may lack a moniker but he's full of character, describing himself as a ``throwback--the kind of man who hates progress, mistrusts technology, and never quite feels comfortable in any place where he can't see or touch some small piece of the past.'' Still haunted by the horror described in Shackles (1988), in which he was chained for three months to the wall of an isolated mountain cabin, Nameless now must endure a new ordeal, being locked inside a burning building. The book's exciting final scene nicely plays on the title's double meanings. (Jan.)