Bill Pronzini is simply one of the masters. He seems to have taken a crack at just about every genre: mysteries, noirish thrillers, historicals, locked-room mysteries, adventure novels, spy capers, men’s action, westerns, and, of course, his masterful, long-running Nameless private detective series, now entering its fourth decade, with no signs of creative flagging.
He’s also ghosted several Brett Halliday short stories as Michael Shayne for Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine, and has managed to collaborate with such fellow writers as John Lutz, Barry Wahlberg, Collin Wilcox and Marcia Muller.
Still, if he never ventured into fiction writing, his non-fiction work, as both writer and editor, would still earn him a place in the P.I. genre’s Hall of Fame. Besides his two tributes to some of the very worst in crime fiction (what he calls “alternative classics”), Gun in Cheek and Son of Gun in Cheek, and one on western fiction (entitled Six Gun in Cheek, naturally), he’s the co-author (with Marcia Muller) of 1001 Midnights.
The Mystery Writers of America have nominated him for Edgar Awards several times and his work has been translated into numerous languages and he’s published in almost thirty countries. He was the very first president of the Private Eye Writers of America, and he’s received three Shamus Awards from them, as well as its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. His passion for the old crime pulps is largely responsible for keeping them in the public’s eye. He’s amassed a huge collection of books and magazines and has always been an omnivorous reader; all of which made him a natural when it came to editing various anthologies. He admits “it was a pleasure tracking down good stories to fit a particular anthology theme.” But after editing 80 or so of them over a period of twenty-some years, he decided it was “more than enough.”
Always a critical darling, though never a true best-seller, the twenty-sixth installment in the long-running Nameless series, Crazybone, ended with the intriguing possibility that Nameless and his wife, Kerry, would adopt a child, suggesting a move far from the hard-edged dramas of a lone wolf private eye, and in fact, Pronzini at the time let it be known, in Mystery & Detective Monthly, and perhaps elsewhere, that he wasn’t going to write any more Nameless novels, unless he got an exceptional offer from some publisher. He therefore hoped to end the series on an upbeat note, and to allow for its possible (and from this quarter, much-hoped for) revival.
Well, it came to pass, and he has, in fact, continued the series.
He’s also one hell of an editor, helping compile some truly great crime fiction anthologies, as well as writing the three Gun In Cheek books, humorous non-fiction histories of bad mystery and Western fiction.
Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.
- Acts of Mercy
- Beyond the Grave
- Dead Run
- Night Screams
Praise for Bill Pronzini
Pronzini makes people and events so real that you’re living those explosive days of terror.
Once in a crocodile’s age you come across a writer whose work you instinctively like… I’ve found one—Bill Pronzini. Buy him, read him, and relax.
Los Angeles Times
A skilled writer working at the top of his ability.
Pronzini delivers breathtaking suspense.
San Francisco Examiner
His novels are packed with adventure, fresh characterization, and minute-by-minute suspense.
Pronzini is the master of the shivery, spine-tingling it-could-happen suspense story.
Pronzini is a pro.
The New York Times
Pronzini is a master of suspense.
Los Angeles Times
Pronzini, a pulp aficionado, adds to the race-against-time tension of his homespun stage with sideline subplots: a guilt-ridden love-triangle, an outlaw’s hysterical memories of his father’s death in a fire, a one-legged man’s bitterness and misguided heroism—building to an acceptable, if rather bland, ending. While not attempting to transcend the genre, the author has added to it with his usual professionalism.
For a mystery, Dead Run will be hard to beat.
The New York Times Book Review (Dead Run)