cover image The Violated

The Violated

Bill Pronzini. Bloomsbury, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-6328-6660-8

In the prologue of this disappointing standalone from MWA Grand Master Pronzini (The Hidden), two Santa Rita, Calif., cops inspect the dead body of Martin Torrey lying on a grassy riverbank. Whoever shot Torrey in the groin may have done so as an act of vigilante justice, since Torrey was the prime suspect in a series of recent rapes in which the perpetrator always wore a condom. When Torrey, who had a history as a sex offender, moved from Ohio to Santa Rita, he failed to register with the authorities as required by law, but people soon learned about his past. That a case couldn’t be built against Torrey furthered tensions between the town’s self-centered and nakedly ambitious mayor, Hugh Delahunt, and police chief Griffin Kells, who landed his position despite Delahunt’s support of another candidate for the job. The effort to identify Torrey’s killer involves reinterviewing the rape victims, whose perspectives help humanize the novel. Unfortunately, Pronzini’s choice to include the perspectives of other, often-inconsequential characters dilutes the emotional impact. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary Agency. (Mar.)