Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bleeders - Bill Pronzini

Bleeders is the 27th novel in the Nameless Detective series by Bill Pronzini. Normally, I won't start in the middle of a series like this - this is the first I've read from the series - but I've heard Pronzini mentioned many times on the DorothyL list serve and wanted to check him out. I had room in my audio book schedule and this was the first audio version I could get my paws on from the library. And thank the Lord, it wasn't a damaged copy! Please pardon my review if I start to get tongue-tied. When you have to talk about a character who doesn't have a name, the process gets a little challenging. I'll refer to him as Nameless!

Our Nameless Detective is the narrator of Bleeders. He's 60ish with a wife and a newly adopted ten-year-old daughter.

The novel opens with Nameless waiting with his client, Jay Cohalan, for a call from a blackmailer. Cohalan has hired Nameless to stop the blackmailer who is supposedly "bleeding" him dry. But when Cohalan turns out to be the blackmailer, we learn that Nameless is actually working for Cohalan's wife who suspected Cohalan was pulling the stunt to steal her inheritance that he wouldn't have a legal right to if they divorced. This all happens at the very start of the novel. And while Nameless's case is technically over, he signs on to find the culprit when Cohalan and his wife are murdered. He has a personal stake in the bringing the murderer to justice.

Gregory Gorton read Bleeders and I think he did an excellent job of portraying a 60-something character who is starting to consider "scaling back" on his physical responsibilities as a private investigator.

There wasn't a lot of mystery to this novel and the pace was a slower one. The focus of this novel is more the psychological aspects for Nameless. And this is where starting in the middle of a series puts you at a disadvantage. Nameless is starting to think about cutting back, that he isn't capable of doing the things he did "twenty years ago." I have no idea what those things were. This novel could be very monumental in the series - although there are at least seven more novels to follow so he can't be cutting back too much, huh?

The plot was pretty anti-climatic for me. There really wasn't anything that made me think, "WOW!" And on the flip side, there wasn't anything that made me think, "Oh man, this is terrible." Is that the point of Nameless? He doesn't stand out in any way...just a face in the crowd? These are questions I'd like to answer by going back and reading the beginning of the series.

For the most part, the supporting characters play pretty insubstantial roles. However, I did very much enjoy Nameless's assistant, Tamara. She has a lot of spunk and made a great foil for Nameless. She also adds some humor to the mix.

Overall it was an average book. It wouldn't be something I'd recommend everyone run out and read right this minute, but I wouldn't discourage folks from reading it either. I didn't finish it and think, "I could have been reading something else with this time." I'm glad I took the opportunity to check it out.


Corey Wilde October 18, 2008 at 9:42 AM  

It's been a few years since I tried any of Pronzini's work. I think you pretty well summed up my reaction to it. I had the same reaction to Archer Mayor's books: Okay, but not really satisfying for me. I won't be collecting either of them.

le0pard13 October 21, 2008 at 5:21 PM  

Nice review. As well, I always appreciate those that use the audiobook format and rate the narrator. Way to go, Jen.

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