Wednesday 30 September 2020



Twenty-three of Shamus Award-winning author Bill Pronzini's stories, all of which display his versatility, his clean, crisp narrative style, and his keen awareness of detail. These tales, including three that feature his well-known series chararacter, the "Nameless Detective", run the gamut from psychological suspense ("Strangers in the Fog") to satire ("A Craving for Originality") to Western gothic ("The Hanging Man" and "His Name was Legion").

Of special note, "Proof of Guilt" is a dandy murder-in-a-locked-room puzzle; "Multiples" (written with Barry N. Malzberg) is an intriguing literary exercise about a man who can't decide whether to kill his wife or simply write about it; "Rebound" is a solid character piece about a washed-up reporter stalking a once-great basketball player; and "Peekaboo", about the lone tenant in a large, eerie house, has an ending that will make readers jump.

Another Audible book from Bill Pronzini and another collection of short stories, his best ones apparently - 23 in all.

The books comprises the following.....

Cain's Mark
A Lot on His Mind
The Pattern
I Don't Understand It
Proof of Guilt
Multiples (with Barry N. Malzberg)
Sweet Fever
Putting the Pieces Back
Smuggler's Island
Under the Skin
Caught in the Act
Strangers in the Fog
His Name Was Legion
Rebound (with Barry N. Malzberg)
Black Wind
A Craving for Originality
Two Weeks Every Summer
The Hanging Man
Cat's Paw (A "Nameless Detective" Story)
Skeleton Rattle Your Mouldy Leg (A "Nameless Detective" Story)
Sanctuary (A "Nameless Detective" Story)

The introduction advises that the stories in the collection date from the late 60s to the mid-80s when the set was originally published, several of them were award winners.

A few weeks on, I'd struggle to remember all of them from title alone, but most of them kept me amused while I listened to them. Pronzini's prose is usually quite straightforward and there's nothing ever really left open to reader interpretation as to the outcome. They are pretty definitive in their endings.

Some of the stories had been encountered before in other collections from him, but I was happy enough to hear them again. We have different genres covered with Western as well as mystery.

Two Weeks Every Summer was my favourite. Guys chatting about their forthcoming vactions with two in particular letting off steam for two weeks every year, after suppressing their true selves for the previous fifty. It does make you wonder about how well you truly know people.

I also enjoyed the Nameless tales and they reminded me that I should really get back to the series which I abandoned about six years ago. (Not because I wasn't vibing the books.)

Nearly nine hours of enjoyment to keep me amused during the workday and some everyday solitary tasks which didn't need 100% concentration.

3.5 from 5

Read - (listened to) September, 2020
Published - 1985
Page count - 217 (8 hrs 50 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible


  1. These sound like good 'uns, Col. It's hard to go wrong with Pronzini, and it's nice to dip into short stories sometimes. I find them particularly appealing when I'm extra-busy or stressed, and finding it a little hard to concentrate. Glad you found things to like about these.

    1. Thanks Margot. Fortunately I have a couple more Audible offerings from Pronzini to keep me company during the winter months.