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Scattershot by Bill Pronzini

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Scattershot by Bill Pronzini Scattershot by Bill Pronzini
Series: Nameless Detective #8
Published by PaperJacks on May 1987 (first published 1982)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 172
Format: Paperback
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Business is booming for Nameless; he's started in on three new cases in one week. But every single one of them turns bad some way. In the first, a husband disappears from a car that Nameless has been following. In the second, a woman is mysteriously murdered while Nameless stands outside her bungalow. In the third, a valuable ring disappears from a locked room that Nameless has been guarding. The papers are full of bad publicity. After being at the scene of two homicides, everyone is suspicious of him. He is at risk of losing his PI license. At the same time, he recently proposed to the woman of his dreams and she is becoming more distant from him every day.

Nameless is having a really bad week. Three cases, all of which should be quick, easy money, go awry, landing him in the hot seat. And, to top it off, thing are not going great with his girlfriend.

I don’t really have much to say about the book, even though I definitely enjoyed it. It’s a quick story and I love how Nameless manages to solve the crimes. All three are basically locked room mysteries and getting to the answers take both seeing the clues and having that flash of insight. I also appreciated that even though we do have three mysteries, they’re actually unrelated. Too often in mysteries, everything conveniently ties together; here they don’t, which feels  more realistic to me.

I could have done without the moping about the girlfriend. I’m pretty sure that his pressuring her was not helping their relationship. This is the first full-length Nameless story I’ve read, so I’m not sure how it compares to others, but I’m adding it to the list of series I pick up when I see them at used bookstores.

About Bill Pronzini

Bill Pronzini (born April 13, 1943) is an American writer of detective fiction. He is also an active anthologist, having compiled more than 100 collections, most of which focus on mystery, western, and science fiction short stories.
He is married to Marcia Muller with whom he has collaborated on several novels.

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Cat’s Paw by Bill Pronzini

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Cat’s Paw by Bill Pronzini Cat's Paw by Bill Pronzini
Narrator: Stacy Keach
Series: Nameless Detective
Published by Audio Holdings on June 19, 2009 (first published 1983)
Source: Audible Channels
Genres: Mystery, Short Story
Length: 42 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Expensive and endangered animals are being stolen from the Felishhacker Zoo. At the behest of a previous client who also happens to be an animal enthusiast, the Nameless Detective takes the case and finds himself patrolling the zoo after hours as a night watchman. He has one theory about the thefts already: the animals are being stolen by a collector or someone who knows their worth on the black market. However, as the Nameless Detective searches for answers, the clues begin to debunk his theory that the job was done by an outsider.

“Cat’s Paw” is my first experience with the new Audible channels, which are free for members. It’s one of the selections available on the mystery channel. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, but you click on the channel and it gives you a list of available titles and how long the selections are. I was on my lunch hour, taking the dog for a walk, so 40-ish minutes was perfect for me. I will definitely be seeing what other stories are available on the various channels.

“Cat’s Paw” won the Shamus Award in 1984 for “Best Private Eye Short Story.” The mystery itself was good. I’ve never read any in Pronzini’s “Nameless Detective” series, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of this short story. The zoo makes for an interesting setting and Pronzini is wonderful with descriptions. What starts for our nameless detectives as a job investigating rare animal thefts turns into discovering who is a killer. It’s a short story, which means few clues, but also a limited cast, so while I didn’t guess the whodunnit, it wasn’t exactly a surprise either. It’s more of a puzzle mystery than a run about town seeking clues mystery. The story fit together well.

The narration by Keach was well-done, but he might have made the story feel a bit more noir than it otherwise would have. The only real violence happens off-screen and our detective does not feel overly cynical or “tough” in that hard-boiled way. I feel like I got to know the “nameless detective” a bit, enough to want to read more in the series.

About Bill Pronzini

Bill Pronzini (born April 13, 1943) is an American writer of detective fiction. He is also an active anthologist, having compiled more than 100 collections, most of which focus on mystery, western, and science fiction short stories.
He is married to Marcia Muller with whom he has collaborated on several novels.

The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

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The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller, Bill Pronzini
Narrator: Nick Sullivan, Meredith Mitchell
Series: Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery #1
Published by AudioGO on February 5, 2013
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 6 hrs 57 mins
Format: Audiobook
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In this first of a new series of lighthearted historical mysteries set in 1890s San Francisco, former Pinkerton operative Sabina Carpenter and her detective partner, ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon, undertake what initially appear to be two unrelated investigations.

Sabina’s case involves the hunt for a ruthless lady "dip” who uses fiendish means to relieve her victims of their valuables at Chutes Amusement Park and other crowded places. Quincannon, meanwhile, is after a slippery housebreaker who targets the homes of wealthy residents, following a trail that leads him from the infamous Barbary Coast to an oyster pirate’s lair to a Tenderloin parlor house known as the Fiddle Dee Dee.

The two cases eventually connect in surprising fashion, but not before two murders and assorted other felonies complicate matters even further. And not before the two sleuths are hindered, assisted, and exasperated by the bughouse Sherlock Holmes.

I expected to really enjoy this one. I’m a sucker for historical mysteries and pair a couple of sleuths with a maybe Sherlock Holmes- ti should have been right up my alley. Turned out it was just kind of meh.

Sabina and Quincannon were a little bland. To be honest, it’s a few days after i read the book and I can’t really think of anything particularly interesting about either. She’s a widow. He’s a bit full of himself. They’re both clever enough, but I guess I don’t feel like we really got to know them, or maybe there’s nothing much to know. Then there’s the Sherlock, who may actually be him but may not. i don’t understand shy he was there, if this is a series focussed on the otehr two, the authors should have just left him out. He didn’t add much to the story, besides being annoying. I assume he’ll show up in later books in the series, which I think is a shame. i think Sabina and Quincannon could hold the series on their own without the gimmick, given the chance.

I don’t like how separate Sabina and Quincannon’s investigations are. I would have like to see them work together more, or consult each other. I think having two narrators accentuated the separation, too. Having two narrators doesn’t work for me like 80% of the time, and this was one of those instances. Each did well enough on their own, although I found Sabina’s narrator a bit unemotional, but the alternating always jarred me. I want to be told the story – which one narrator can do fully well, presuming they are good at their job.

The plot was neither here not there. In the end it was a bit simple, and we didn’t really learn enough about the secondary characters to connect with them.

Happily, I picked this up from the library, so the fact that’s it’s a miss is okay. Not sure I’ll listen to the next in the series unless I’m desperate.

 

About Bill Pronzini

Bill Pronzini (born April 13, 1943) is an American writer of detective fiction. He is also an active anthologist, having compiled more than 100 collections, most of which focus on mystery, western, and science fiction short stories.
He is married to Marcia Muller with whom he has collaborated on several novels.

About Marcia Muller

Marcia Muller (born September 28, 1944[1]) is an American author of fictional mystery and thriller novels. Muller has written many novels featuring her Sharon McCone female private detective character.

She was born in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in Birmingham, Michigan. She graduated in English from the University of Michigan and worked as a journalist at Sunset magazine. She is married to detective fiction author Bill Pronzini with whom she has collaborated on several novels.

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