The confessions of Jordan Wise, who maintains that he’s committed three perfect crimes.
In a nondescript Virgin Island bar, a bored writer has struck up a conversation with the only other customer. The writer’s name is John Talley; his “rumpled, unshaven, rum-soaked” companion says his name is Richard Laidlaw, but it’s not. At least it wasn’t 28 years ago, and thereby hangs a dark and twisted tale that begins with a woman a man could well do dangerous things for: Annalise Bonner, an obvious heir of Helen of Troy. When Jordan Wise, aka Richard Laidlaw, meets her, it’s love at first sight. For her, it’s a mild attraction, and Annalise is not the girl for mild attractions or mild-mannered accountants. But she’s wrong about this one. Because Wise must have her, he sets about snookering his firm out of $602,496—crime number one. After hearing in detail about the much gorier crimes two and three, Talley poses a key question: After all these years, has guilt triggered this amazing confession? Hardly, comes the answer. It’s pride too long restrained, the justifiable pride one takes in perfectly wrought things.
After 66 novels, including the distinguished Nameless Detective series (Nightcrawlers, 2005, etc.), Pronzini’s energy seems undiminished and his cool intelligence as appealing as ever. But this is quintessential noir. Gentler readers proceed accordingly.