The Nameless Detective, whose name is Bill, leaves the Bay Area and drives to far-off Mineral Springs, Nevada, to go to bat for a troubled kid he’s never met.
Twenty years ago, Nameless’ love affair with Cheryl Rosmond was nipped in the bud when her brother Doug, whom Nameless had unmasked as a killer, committed suicide. Now the police are at Cheryl’s door again. Five months after losing his job at the Eastwell Mine, her son, Cody Hatcher, 19, has been arrested for three rapes. The strongest evidence against Cody is provided by hermit/scavenger Max Stendreyer, who stopped selling Cody marijuana long enough to identify him as the man he saw fleeing the scene of the third assault. Cheryl swears her son is innocent, but with the possible exception of his girlfriend, hair stylist Alana Farmer, no one else in Mineral Springs agrees. Bedrock County Sheriff Joe Felix is so convinced he’s got the right guy that he won’t even let Nameless in to speak to his prisoner; the three victims, all of them much older than Cody, don’t exactly welcome him with open arms either; and Alana’s ex-boyfriend Derek Zastroy, who Cody thinks set him up, brushes off the accusation with casual truculence. No matter. Nameless digs and digs, and soon he’s made enough progress to have attracted gunfire, made an enemy of the local district attorney and linked Cody to a quite different series of crimes, including homicide. Maybe these reunions with your lost loves aren’t such a great idea after all.
The detection is routine and the real killer forgettable, but Pronzini (Camouflage, 2011, etc.) keeps his biggest and saddest surprise in reserve for the final pages. Don’t quit reading just because you’ve found out whodunit.