Is this the end of the Nameless Detective? Could it be that at long last Pronzini is ready to put his oft-battered but never bowed shamus out to well-earned pasture? Well, there are unmistakable valedictory hints. On the final page of the current entry, for instance, Nameless, now 60, allows that 30 years of sleuthing might be enough: “My work was no longer the only thing that defined and sustained me. . . . I was sick of pain and sorrow and blood.” Clearly, Weltschmerz has drained Nameless’s energy, and maybe his creator’s too. This slightest of stories involves a blackmail attempt that turns into a scam of a different color when the putative victim proves villainous, larcenous, and hopelessly inept to boot. The scheme falls apart, but in the process Nameless comes within a misfire of being murdered. In fact, he feels he has been murdered, metaphorically at least, and won’t be reborn until he nails the blackhearted perp responsible, a lowlife known only as Dingo. A variety of pulp-begotten characters attempt to block him, but even in the twilight of his career, Nameless has just enough bulldog left in him. He tracks down his nemesis, setting the stage for the kind of high-octane climax in which Nameless has sizzled in the past. Here, however, the foolproof scene fizzles, since you can’t have a face-to-face showdown if only one face shows up.
After so much good work, his 28th outing (In an Evil Time, 2000, etc.) finds Nameless lifeless.