cover image Nothing But the Night

Nothing But the Night

Bill Pronzini. Walker & Company, $23.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-3330-6

Pronzini (A Wasteland of Strangers) appears determined to keep the noir tradition intact. His new novel, about two anguished men whose lives collide violently, could easily have been made into a black-and-white film starring Robert Mitchum, Victor Mature or Dane Clark. Cameron Gallagher has all the trappings of success: a devoted wife, two young daughters and a wine business in Northern California. But Cam is deeply troubled by repressed secrets from his past that threaten to erupt and destroy his life. His depression and alcoholism are exacerbated by recurring nightmares of the night his father murdered his adulterous mother when Cam was a boy, and the stress is beginning to undermine his own marriage. Nick Hendryx's life, on the other hand, has already been ruined, by a hit-and-run accident that put his young wife in a coma. Nick now roams the West, surviving on minimum-wage jobs, showing everyone he encounters a police artist's sketch of the driver. When Nick finds Cam in Paloma, Calif., he begins plotting a slow revenge. Pronzini traces both men's lives in alternating chapters. The prose is workmanlike, but the characters are superb, complex yet appealing. Pronzini pulls readers' strings like the expert he is, keeping them unsure of whose side to take and whom to believe (Cam doesn't remember the accident). This six-time nominee for an Edgar could get a seventh for this highly suspenseful tale. Agent, Dominick Abel Literary Agency. (June)