Thursday, March 9

Mourners: A Nameless Detective Novel by Bill Prozini

Review by Gloria Feit

Bill Pronzini is among that rare group of authors, like the late Ed McBain, who just keeps writing masterful novels, of which Mourners is the latest [his 33rd book].

The detective agency is asked to delve into what has changed Lynn Troxell‚s husband‚s behavior in the past few months. Seems like an innocuous situation ˆ a girlfriend on the side, for instance, something Mrs. Troxell adamantly insists is not possible. So Nameless and Jake Runyon, with Tamara‚s assistance, take on the task, and it ultimately proves to be anything but innocuous.

Jake is dealing with his wife‚s death from cancer; Nameless with his daughter‚s approaching adolescence and his wife‚s uncharacteristic reticence, as well as the question of the identity of her Œreal‚ father; Tamara‚s 7-year relationship with Horace has just crashed and burned. And the initial investigation morphs into a search for the man who strangled and raped a young woman, whose grave is regularly visited, flowers and all, by Mr. Troxell. [I had one small quibble: at one point the author refers to an attorney who was „defending a plaintiff in a civil suit.‚ This would seem to be a contradiction in terms ˆ I‚m guessing the correct word would have been Œrepresenting‚ a plaintiff.] The book moves very rapidly, with a big dose of extra tension as things wrap up. There was a very weird undercurrent for this reader while devouring Mourners ˆ in an eerie coincidence here in New York the body of a young woman was found a couple of days ago, and she‚d been raped, either before or after she was strangled, and left in the brush off the side of a road; as the March 2nd NY papers said, the police were trying „to solve a crime with an apparently random victim, no clear motive, no suspect and a litany of built-in investigative challenges,‰ all much like the victim in this novel ˆ an instance of life imitating art, if that isn‚t [unintentionally] making light of a very tragic story.

Mr. Pronzini has written another winner.

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