His name was Roy Sands, and he had everything to look forward to. He was getting out of the service and coming home to marry his beautiful Fiancée. He had his debts paid, money in the bank, and a happy new life ahead of him. Then he disappeared.
Having decided to follow Pronzini’s Nameless detective last month and been delighted enough to select the first outing “The Snatch” as my March pick of the month, I was keen to read this second instalment in the series - The Vanished.
Nameless is employed by Sands’ fiancée Elaine to track him down after he goes missing. Sands and Elaine have made plans now that he’s left the army. They are committed to each other. The wedding’s in a few weeks and now Elaine’s worried by Ray’s unexplained disappearance.The search takes Nameless out of San Francisco and north to Eugene where the last trace of Sands originated. He interviews his ex-army buddies, without any of them shedding too much light on the quiet, committed Ray; the contemplative, non-hell raising veteran Ray whose only concern seemed to be towards Elaine and their future life together.
Nameless picks up a glimmer of a clue that points him towards Germany and the US army base where Ray and his troop were stationed. Frantic at her loss, Elaine agrees for Nameless to fly to Europe. Despite threats against his and Elaine’s lives, Nameless doggedly persists with his enquiries. After uncovering further details regarding Ray’s recent past in Germany, the trail leads Nameless back to the States and ever closer to providing a solution to the mysterious disappearance. Elaine will be getting answers, even if she won’t be hearing any wedding bells.If at all possible, I actually enjoyed this book more than the first. Pronzini has drawn a compelling detective who pursues his vocation with intelligence and tact. There’s little recourse to violence during the book. Nameless has an integrity about him, and a compassion and empathy for the pain others are feeling. He treats both client and prostitute alike with the same level of respect and decency. He worries what impact his enquiry will have on the ongoing welfare of his client. Basically he’s a gentleman, no bullying, no strong-arming, no intimidation – but he’s never boring.
This book picks up several months after the conclusion of the earlier “Snatch” case and there’s a personal journey that Nameless is taking in addition to his case load. As a bachelor, ex-cop, PI in his 40’s he hasn’t yet given up on the hope of finding a life partner. During the course of “The Vanished” he might have met her. Whether the fledgling relationship survives the conclusion and aftermath of this book, is something I’m looking forward to finding out next month in book 3 – Undercurrent.Pronzini has created an intriguing, likeable protagonist that even at this early stage has me hooked.
5 from 5 – another contender for my favourite book choice this month.I purchased my copy second hand from Amazon UK.