Monday, 12 December 2011

Nameless

The Snatch is a very early Bill Pronzini novel and the very first of his long running Nameless Detective series. And it's a very decent beginning. Pronzini may have been just starting out on his longer form career but he'd already gone some way to developing his skills through his short stories. Don't be fooled by the pedestrian seeming set up to the plot, what looks like a routine kidnapping and ransom soon manages to throw a few curve balls. It's all cleanly written and constructed, playing to its pulp noir influences, the most commendable aspect being the character development of our unconventional hero. He's a very engaging character, a devotee to the pulps himself which engenders a neat homage within homage dynamic that blurs the boundaries between Pronzini himself and his nameless protagonist. Within the first few pages, Nameless has already compared someone to Doc Savage and greater props to the author for allowing an image of Lester Leith, Erle Stanley Gardener's crafty pulp creation, to jolt Nameless from a blue funk onto a hotter trail. Nameless's obsession with the pulps is a major aspect of the series, in this first book it highlights the cracks in his already crumbling and damaged relationship with his current girlfriend. Her judgement being," I want a man. Not a stubborn and self-deluding adolescent trying to live the life of a fictional hero." This isn't just fan fiction though, Pronzini just happens to be a very fine storyteller, mastering the art of hard-boiled dialogue and first person stream of consciousness that wouldn't sit uncomfortably next to the 30's pulp maestros both he and Nameless idolises.

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