A couple of us stopped for Chinese food for lunch on Tuesday, and my fortune in my fortune cookie was so perfect for this blog that I saved it. It said, "There will always be delightful mysteries in your life."
Bill Pronzini's first mystery, The Snatch, is one of those delightful mysteries. It was time I read a Nameless Detective book, so I borrowed the first in the series through interlibrary loan. I wasn't too far into it when I realized I actually had read it before. But, even Pronzini's early work is worth reading. So, I've started seriously reading the series, and I just have to pick up the second one now.
This first Nameless Detective book was published in 1971, when Pronzini was a twenty-seven-year-old bachelor, not yet married to Marcia Muller. It will be interesting to see how the books change over thirty-seven years. Let's start with the fact that it's old enough I couldn't find a book cover online to use on the blog.
The private detective in the book was a cop for fifteen years before he went out on his own. He's also an avid collector of pulp magazines. His business is slow, but, even so he's reluctant to accept a case. He's called to a wealthy community south of San Francisco where a millionaire's nine-year-old son has been kidnapped. Since Louis Martinetti doesn't want to call in the police, and needs someone to make the money drop, our hero agrees.
Even in this first book, Pronzini is able to build tension and suspense. He creates a fascinating hero, whose girlfriend describes him when she leaves him. "You're too honest, too ethical, too affected by real corruption and real human misery to be the kind of lone wolf private eye you'd like to be." In one way, she's wrong. The Nameless Detective is just the type of private eye the reader would like him to be. Even as a first mystery, The Snatch, and its detective, intrigues the reader. I'll be looking for the second book.
The Snatch by Bill Pronzini. Random House, ©1971. ISBN 0-394-47226-8 (hardcover), 213p.