Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Booktaker - a Nameless Detective Story

A Nameless Detective title greeted me when I dropped over to Audible the other day. I thought at first The Booktaker was one of the novels, and it reminded me I've lagged behind on the tales by Bill Pronzini, who for decades has steadily put out a book a year featuring his San Francisco P.I.

I used to read those almost as steadily, with a burst of back-to-back reading of volumes here or there, but somehow I let myself get out of touch with Nameless. (In the tradition of Dashiell Hammett's The Continental Op, the cases unfold in first person with only personal pronoun references for Nameless and never a proper name, except in one crossover title with Collin Wilcox in which he's referred to as Bill.)

I was delighted to discover the Audible offering was A.) Free at the moment and B.) A free-standing novella featuring Nameless. It seemed to be a great way to get back into the tales, and that proved true.

In the story, Nameless is hired by the antiquarian bookseller who sold him a collection of pulp titles once upon a time. Collectible maps are disappearing from his shop's secured rare books room in spite of careful security measures and an alarm system.

Taking on a false persona involving the surname Marlowe in tribute to Philip, Nameless goes undercover at the bookshop and begins an assessment of the premises and the employees.

A nice and twisty 90-minute tale unfolds with glimpses into Nameless' personal life, tips on the antiquarian book trade and a bit of action.

Nameless put the pieces together a couple of minutes ahead of me, though I was going "Of course" when he revealed the facts had been before me all along.

All in all it was a great little find, and a 90-minute mystery is a friendly listening length. The story is narrated by Nick Sullivan, perhaps a bit matter-of-factly for a first person story, but it gets the job done.

If you've never met Nameless, this is a good entry point, with a blend of the hard boiled flavored with affection for pulps and literature alike.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I haven't used Audible, though they have my three Talera books there! :)

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