Friday, 8 January 2016

BILL PRONZINI - BINDLESTIFF (1983)


Synopsis/blurb…..

Miss Arlene Bradford hires Nameless to find her father. Fired from his government job, Charles Bradford has become a freeloading hobo. It turns out he's inherited a lot of money, and Arlene wants him to have it -- but her sister, Hannah, has some different feelings.

When Nameless hits the tracks to investigate, he discovers something very serious has happened to Bradford, he has disappeared – for good. And when the gruesome facts of this mysterious case come to light, Nameless has got to act quickly before the bodies start piling up like abandoned club cars, and justice gets derailed – permanently.

Bindlestiff is the 10th in the Nameless mystery series (and the definition of the word if like me you didn’t know is hobo.)

I think what I like about this series so much is the back story of our main man, though on occasions in earlier books when Nameless is throwing himself a pity party it’s also what I dislike. Here though he’s on top form.

He’s just got his PI license back after suspension, which will save him having to dispose of too much of his 6000 strong pulp magazine collection to pay the bills. (He’s just sold 1000 to a collector….. ouch!) His best friend, nay only friend – Eberhardt and Nameless are going through a difficult patch with a permanent hangover from facts revealed in our last case – Dragonfire. Eberhardt has left the force and is pressuring Nameless for a job with him. Despite the friendship, Nameless is a solitary man so it’s lose/lose whatever he decides. The romance with Kerry is back on – though there’s a cloud on the horizon with an attractive Chinese journalist (from Dragonfire) pursuing our man for an interview (and possibly more.) Helluva lot going on and we haven’t even got to our case.

Nameless is hired by one sister to find her father, who after losing his job went off riding the rails. The other sister, closer to her father in many ways, but a money-grabber tried to hire him not to look. Bradford has surfaced after a newspaper report and picture on some railway hobos was recently published.

Nameless goes in pursuit and after tracing Bradford’s steps finds himself pursuing a double murderer. Trust in our man to get to the bottom of mystery, which links back to Bradford’s family and events which occurred long ago. A further twist in the mystery occurs later with Nameless himself at risk.

Bindlestiff is the best one I’ve read for a while and was caned in a day over Christmas. Not the most perfect and satisfying murder mystery, there’s a slight suspension of belief as Pronzini tweaks the boundaries of plausibility but hey I was happy to go with it. Some of the best bits were when Nameless took his enquiries to the hobo jungle outside Oroville.

5 from 5

10 down 35 to go, give or take. January should see me reading Casefile, a collection of Nameless short stories also from 1983.

Purchased copy a year or two ago.


10 comments:

  1. Oh, some of those Nameless stories really are excellent, aren't they, Col? When Pronzini is at the top of his form, he is very good indeed. Interesting point you make about the self-pitying, too. I think it's all too easy for some characters to indulge in that. I like it better when they don't.

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    1. Margot, I knew of the series many years ago, but only took the plunge on it a year or two ago - I'm still kind of kicking myself for the delay. Nameless certainly has his ups and downs personally - like you I prefer it when he's up!

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  2. 10 down 35 to go, give or take

    That makes it more like 3 down, 42 to go for me . . .

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  3. This one sounds way too interesting to ignore. Bill Pronzini is on my list this year and I'm looking forward to reviewing it.

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  4. I remember the name of this one. A new word for me also at the time. Your reviews make me want to go back and reread them, except that I have so many to catch up on. I remember I used to read some of these in a day also. Just wonderful reads.

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    1. Tracy, it's satisfying to read them in a day. Mission accomplished! And you know it's been a good book otherwise you would have done other things with your time!

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  5. This one sounds great, and I know I will catch up on this author sometime - this should jump up the queue.

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    1. One of the better ones. I haven't found a poor one yet, but some I like more than others.

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