SHACKLES by Bill Pronzini


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Was Pronzini unable to come up with a new puzzle for his ""Nameless Detective"" series? So it seems--because here, instead of mystery, he offers an energetic but thin recycling of an old pulp-melodrama standby: a kidnap-victim's physical ordeal, escape, and revenge. ""Nameless,"" you see, is minding his own San Francisco business when a masked man abducts him, spirits him off to an isolated cabin in the mountains, and shackles him by chain to the wall! Worse yet, this enigmatic avenger plans to leave middle-aged Nameless there, with 13 weeks' worth of food, to slowly die of starvation. (Says the villain: ""That's the only way I'll ever have my peace, when you're dead, dead, dead, dead!"") So the novel's first half is Nameless' day-by-day account of his long, smelly ordeal--which ends in week #13 when (thanks to weight loss) he unshackles himself. He then staggers through the snow to freedom--but, implausibly, doesn't go home to beloved girlfriend Kerry. No, he must first exorcise his obsessive hatred by tracking down his psycho-jailer and killing him. Some mildly interesting sleuthing ensues. And eventually there's the confrontation between Nameless and his nemesis--whose identity (ho-hum) and motivation (lurid) are finally revealed. Despite a couple of vivid character sketches in the second half (a mournful widower, a frowsy real-estate woman): crude short-story material padded out to novel length--with some appeal for action-adventure fans, virtually none for mystery readers.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1988
Publisher: St. Martin's