CAMOUFLAGE by Bill Pronzini
Settling in with one of Bill Pronzini’s Nameless detective novels is extremely comfortable if you’re a fan or a long-time reader. You know all the players. You know all the moves. But it’s fun and relaxing to take up the chase for the bad guys again.
I always read these books on a lazy Friday night or Saturday morning, when I have time to flip the pages, absorb the stories and enjoy the nuances of the characters. After all, they’re friends and the stories don’t compel me to rush through the chapters. I can dawdle leisurely, take in the dialogue, or toy with the machinations of the plots and the emotional complexities I see the characters struggling through.
Camouflage is this year’s offering, and the two cases presented within the book are pretty well described by the title. First up, Nameless is presented with a client who wants to track down an ex-wife so he can get his marriage/divorce annulled because his current fiancé wants to get married in a Catholic church that doesn’t recognize divorces. Nameless has a dialogue with some of the characters that ran through my head while reading that as well. Divorce is a part of life for many people and it’s strange when churches figure out ways to circumvent the existence of such a thing. In this case, hunting down the missing ex-wife turns deadly, and it brings trouble to Nameless’s doorstep.
In the meantime, Jake Runyon has to deal with his lover’s abused son, her ex-husband, and the ex-husband’s new stepmom-to-be that is a coiled and nasty mess waiting to leap out of the closet. With child abuse being such a hot topic in the news, the story has a lot of resonance.
Neither of these two cases are extremely hard to figure out. I pretty much pegged them both as the clues dropped into place, but it was the enjoyment of seeing the investigations wrapped that kept me at the pages. Just because you figure these things out doesn’t mean that things are going t end well for your heroes.
This is another fine entry in the long-running series and I’m happily looking forward to the next. If you haven’t read a Nameless Detective novel but are sufficiently intrigued, I really recommend picking up one of the earlier novels to see Nameless grow and evolve. You can start here, but Pronzini has created a wonderful character that mystery readers will enjoy from start to finish.