Friday, 14 August 2020
BILL PRONZINI - MORE ODDMENTS (2001)
More Oddments features 14 more detective stories featuring characters such as Fergus O'Hara and the "Nameless" Detective. The stories included in this collection are:
"Fergus O'Hara, Detective"
"A Craving for Originality"
"One of Those Cases (A "Nameless Detective" Story)"
"I Didn't Do It"
"Quicker Than the Eye (with Michael Kurland)"
"Angel of Mercy"
"A Taste of Paradise"
"Under the Skin"
"Prose Bowl (with Barry N. Malzberg)"
Another Audible offering from an author, I'm quite fond of but have neglected somewhat in the past few years. Pronzini has written around 45 mysteries in his San Francisco set, Nameless PI series. It's a series I like and I was bouncing along in 2015/16 at a pace of one a month and got side-tracked at around the dozen mark after reading Nightshades. Don't know why to be honest.
Here he showcases his skills in the short story format and there's a few I really liked, a few that were ok, and a few that weren't especially memorable.
Prose Bowl, the finishing piece in the collection is frantic, pacey and tense...... two writers competing under pressure in front of a global audience to pen a novel/novella from scratch, like two boxers going hammer and tongs at each other for twelve rounds ..... word count is critical, penalties exist for repetition and other writerly sins. It shouldn't really work, insofar as it sounds totally preposterous but it does.
Opportunity..... two cop partners, one skint and ill and deferring an operation and keeping his condition from his wife and his boss, go after a perp and come back with a corpse and a case full of cash. Opportunity, trust between partners and temptation I liked the ambiguity of the ending.
One of those Cases has Nameless on a domestic investigation. An unhappy wife suspects her husband of playing away, Nameless investigates and it's not what she thinks. I liked it without ever being blown away.
In the others, we have......
Chip - a gangster, his son and boarding school - ok
A Craving for Originality - a hack writer wants to spread his wings - alright
I Didn't Do It - a man down on his luck, a cheating couple, a thick wallet, a blow to the head and a confession - irritating
Angel of Mercy - a Civil War era abortionist is taken to task - undecided
Quicker than the Eye - a kind of locked room mystery with a magician/illusionist, his manager and his assistant - enjoyed
Connoisseur - nouveau riche, fine wine, envy and resentment - liked it
Smuggler's Island - family secrets in small town community - enjoyed
Under the Skin - friendship, bravery and cowardice - thoughtful
A Taste of Paradise - a fleeting holiday friendship and some regrets - indifference
Fergus O'Hara, Detective - historic Civil War tale, San Francisco, St Patrick's Day, gamblers, Pinkertons, a steamer, a conman, some missing gold - nice twist, but annoying narration with the faux Irish accent
Mrs Rakubian - subject ???? - forgettable
Like every other collection I've read in the past - a mixed bag.
3 from 5
Read - (listened to) July, 2020
Published - 2001
Page count - 238 (6 hrs 22 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible
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Even the most talented authors (like Pronzini) aren't always at the top of their games, Col, but it sounds as though there are some real gems in this collection. I've read some of his short stories, and really ought to try some others. Short stories can be a great alternative to a novel, and I don't read enough of them.ReplyDelete
More to like than dislike Margot.Delete
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I have only read one short story by Pronzini, I should try more. I don't know if Glen has either.ReplyDelete
I'm currently listening to another collection from him at the minute.Delete