Written By: Bill Pronzini
Published By: Cemetery Dance Publications
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Almost fifty years after he started, writer Bill Pronzini has published 77 novels and other works. He is best known for his Nameless Detective series, featuring 36 novels worth of mystery and suspense. I recently got my hands on a reprint of his 1993 novella, Kinsmen, and I couldn't wait to check out this award-winning writer's work.
In this installment of the Nameless Detective series, our hero, who shall remain nameless, is described as a sixty year old private detective soft on female advertising executives and hard against a partnership gone sour. His latest case: find out where college student Allison Shay has gotten to. Hired by Allison's frantic mother, the Nameless Detective heads off to the quite town of Creekside, where Allison and her boyfriend were last seen five days ago.
The Nameless Detective soon learns that Allison had left her former boyfriend, Gary, for Rob Compton, a young black student with fresh ideas and a great GPA. They were reportedly madly in love and headed home to break the news of their interracial relationship to their respective families. Unfortunately, their car broke down in Creekside, California, a tiny, rural town whose residents don't take kindly to strangers in general, let alone those involved in an interracial relationship.
The more the Nameless Detective delves into Allison and Rob's disappearance, the more it appears that foul play may be involved. The big question is whether or not the Nameless Detective will find the young lovers alive.
While I found Kinsmen to be an interesting tale and enjoyed trying to solve the crime along with the lead character, I felt like I was missing something by not having read any of the other books in the Nameless Detective series. I felt that I didn't know the Nameless Detective as well as I should, though I did gather some tidbits of information about him in this story. I was also annoyed when, towards the end of the novel, the Nameless Detective began referring to evidence that the reader was never made privy to. I might have enjoyed the story better had all of the evidence been revealed earlier so I could figure out the mystery, but I suppose the evidence was kept concealed in an effect to increase the suspense and shock value.
Kinsmen has that early 1970s feel, leading me to believe that this story may have been written a lot earlier than it was originally published. There is little to give the reader the idea that this may be a more modern tale set in the 1990s or 2000s. In fact, there is more evidence against it - especially when you take into account that the Nameless Detective uses public phones instead of a cellphone to make calls.
Despite my gripes, I found Kinsmen to be an engaging and suspenseful tale. Based on this one tale, I find I wouldn't mind reading more adventures of the Nameless Detective in the future. This novel is not yet available in stores, but can be purchased soon at Cemetery Dance Publications.