Monday, February 9, 2015
Review of The Vanished by Bill Pronzini (Sphere, 1973)
The Vanished is the second book in Pronzini’s nameless detective series, told through a first person perspective. The story has a nice cadence and expressive prose and is tightly written and honed, with little in the way of digressions or feints or blinds beyond keeping a few possible explanations in play as to why a man has disappeared; it simply tells the story of how the case unfolded. The plot is relatively straightforward, but is engaging and entertaining, with a strong hook. The key element, however, is the nameless detective. Whilst he has a reflective, philosophical, empathetic side, he’s also pragmatic, dogged, and can look after himself in a squeeze; he also lacks the brashness and edginess of many fictional PIs. I found him an appealing character to spend some time with, along with the nice mix of characters Pronzini populates the book, including Roy Sands who is ever-present despite being absent. Overall, a nicely told hardboiled PI tale that has aged well.