cover image Blue Lonesome

Blue Lonesome

Bill Pronzini. Walker & Company, $21.95 (207pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-3268-2

In this top-notch thriller, the author of the Nameless Detective series combines the best elements of the psychological novel and the traditional whodunit and delivers them in classic noir tones. This hero has a name, Jim Messenger. He's a quiet, lonely CPA who becomes obsessed with an even lonelier woman he sees in the San Francisco neighborhood cafe where they both eat their solitary dinners. When ``Ms. Lonesome,'' as he calls her, commits suicide, Messenger seeks to learn her real identity and the cause of her fatal melancholy. The search leads him to the small Nevada town of Beulah, where the locals fear his questions about two past killings and urge him, sometimes violently, to get out. The dead woman's sister, Dacy, overcomes initial skepticism about Messenger, turning her local knowledge and feisty resourcefulness to his advantage. With her help, the quiet accountant finds courage to unearth the secret of Ms. Lonesome's tragedy. Pronzini is masterful here, as he uses both the stark desert setting and knowledgeable digressions about jazz to evoke the loneliness at the heart of the tale. (Nov.)