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Spook by Bill Pronzini
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A very enjoyable entry in the Nameless Detective series. A delusional homeless man who talks to ghosts is murdered and workers at a nearby office who only knew him as "Spook" want to know who he was so they can put a name on his grave. The police are investigating it as a homicide, but they aren't getting very far. As Nameless and his two partners,
testy young Tamara and a tightly wound newcomer named Jack Runyon, uncover Spook's haunted past they also inadvertently identify his killer - and put themselves in danger. I must be mellowing; I've always been irrated when first person and third are mixed and matched, but in this case it worked. A good, solid story, well told. ( )
  bfister | May 7, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0786710861, Hardcover)

Deaths among the homeless don't usually provoke background probes. But when a transient known as Spook (because "he had ghosts living inside his head") is shot outside the offices of a San Francisco film-industry supplier, employees there want to know why. "He didn't have a mean bone in his body," one staffer assures Bill Pronzini's Nameless Detective in Spook. So was this just the random slaying of a street crazy, or had someone from Spook's unknown past--maybe Dot or Luke, the apparitions he was always jabbering to--finally come gunning for him?

In Nameless' 28th novel-length outing, but his first since the pivotal Bleeders (in which he almost hung up his gumshoes for good), Pronzini's classically wrought sleuth is preparing for semiretirement, turning over responsibilities to his young PI partner, Tamara Corbin. He's also breaking in a new investigator, reserved ex-cop and widower Jake Runyon, to whom he hands off the identity search--little knowing how quickly that case will turn ugly, linking the "gentle, friendly" Spook to the murder of another homeless man and a long-ago triple homicide in the California Sierras. Meanwhile, Nameless finishes up a high-profile dig into questionable practices among city employees. This secondary plot lacks the intrigue of Runyon's task; however, both investigations generate action, including a hostage situation and a not-so-merry chase during a Christmas benefit. More than two decades after this series' initial installment, The Snatch, Nameless's assignments have become less conventional, and he's been mellowed by age, marriage, and too much death. Yet, even at age 61, he's more vital than many newer, less deservedly cynical competitors. --J. Kingston Pierce

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:35 -0400)

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"Shaken after a hair's-breadth escape from death, Nameless has made some changes in his professional life: He's taken on his smart, young assistant Tamara as a partner, and he's hired Jake Runyon, a reticent ex-cop with a hammerhead jaw and troubled past, to work with him in the field. But he's not put himself out to pasture. Again he enters San Francisco's shadowy underworld, this time in a search for the identity of a gentle, mentally disturbed homeless man who has been found dead in an alley doorway." "Beyond the dead man's street name - Spook (for his habit of talking at length with two ghosts he called Dot and Luke) - clues are few. Eventually, though, they take the investigation to Aspen Creek, the small, isolated town high in the California Sierras where the nameless victim has left behind him a tragic history of murder and madness. More dangerously, and unpredictably, in Nameless's low-end office on O'Farrell Street, seventeen years of repressed rage are about to erupt again into violent revenge - from a hot-eyed wild man brandishing a Micro Uzi SMG."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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