Boobytrap: A Nameless Detective Novel by Bill Pronzini
One of the great mysteries of the publishing world is why so many of the terrific "Nameless Detective" books by Bill Pronzini are out of print. At least three--Hardcase, Illusions, and a collection called Spadework--are available, however. And, luckily, Boobytrap has the same clipped, resonant dialogue (a cross between Chandler and David Mamet), the understated but gripping action scenes, and the offhand noir wisdom as the rest of the series, as the always unnamed but rarely outgunned San Francisco private detective accepts a free fishing vacation in a High Sierra cabin and finds himself part of the revenge scheme of a particularly crafty mad bomber. Unlike many series heroes, "Nameless" has aged realistically ("Almost sixty years old and as horny as a teenager," says his ladyfriend), and the suicide of his partner in Illusions still troubles him. "In a way it was good, necessary that I would never forget: all that he was and all that he wasn't were a lesson to me. That was why I'd kept his fishing gear, the one tangible piece of him. It was why I'd never get rid of it. And it was why I'd never use even a single item." No wonder Pronzini has won Shamus Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers Association of America. --Dick Adler
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Compassionate and humane crime novel, March 20, 2002
from Birmingham England
It is always problematic when you come late to a long running and well established series in any genre as nuances and subtleties of relationships,familiar to veteran afficionados of the series may well be lost to newcomers.The series about the Namelss Detective ,now numbering nigh on 30 titles,is a good instance where I am concerned."Boobytrap"is only my second taste of the series and there are echoes of his past cases in the book,and in particular details of how these have shaped his current world view,Nameless does age in the series and his increasing fallibility,physical and emotional is a key undercurrent to events. In the book he is on vacation in the High Sierra Lakes ,with the son(Chuck)and wife(Marion)of local DA Tom Dixon.They are to be joined by Dixon on the conclusion of urgent court matters in San Francisco,There is a large problem however,for Dixon is the target of "Latimer"a recently paroled bomber/boobytrapper and a man intent on revenge against all those instrumental in sending him to prison,including Dixon."Latimer"is in the area ,in the guise of a vacationer and quite prepared to kill in order to wreak his revenge on Dixon. The allure of the book for me is less in its thrillerish and crime elements but in its meditations on how life and its tribulations has changed Nameless by making him aware of his own mortality.Sickened by the deaths in his own life he gives up fishing not wishing to add to the burden of death.Namelss reflects bitterly on a society that spawns men like Latimer who see revenge for proper punishment as their due.Love all too often seems like the most fragile and tenuous barrier to encroaching darkness be this individual or societal.Nameless is not a hardboiled private eye but warm ,human and a good man who has paid a bitter price for survival .Nameless is a good man,professionally and personally and I recommend the book to you.