Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bill Pronzini : Bones

Bill Pronzini : Bones, 1985 – Italian title : Ombre sul passato – translation Marcella Dallatorre - Il Giallo Mondadori No. 1966, 1986

Who does not know Bill Pronzini? And who does not know his famous detective, Nameless? A detective with a great humanity, that combines wisdom and action. However, his adventures differ from other detectives typical of the genre Hard-Boiled. Pronzini has always been sincere about it, rejecting the subsidiary of Chandler and instead recognizing as the only novelist to have played a key role in the creation of his character, was Dewey, with his "Mac". Pronzini, however, is not alone in this, unlike many authors Hard-Boiled. He also has solid foundations and cultural history of the genre: you known, from a mile away, as his readings have not only caught in the genre Pulp and Hard-Boiled, but also in that of the Mystery Classic. And his stories have an air of light, sparkling, with remarkable leaps and grand finals, and also possess a remarkable humorous vein, sometimes irreverent, even against his character, which is very rare.
Bones, who also has a nice Locked-Room, is a novel that also speaks about bones, but it is not a thriller by Kate Reichs. No. It’s a novel that sinks its own investigation into the past. And as happened before, the plot is intertwined with the traditional mystery.
Michael Kiskadon has recently discovered to be the son of the great writer of Mystery, Harmon Crane, who died thirty years before. A sad story: depression, alcohol and then suicide. So far nothing strange, especially since  had been found a farewell letter in the typewriter. And to validate the theory of suicide was the mode of discovery: the room was locked from the inside, was on the first floor, and it was not possible then exit from the windows: in short, a situation defined. The fact is that "Nameless" starts to investigate, but is faced what might be called a "conspiracy of silence". Before Crane's wife, Amanda, who talks about his lovely family life lived with Crane until the death of her husband, but does not really talks about suicide: that flaunts a glacial that "Nameless" initially misinterpretes, then understanding how the woman has suffered such a severe shock to be assisted by his granddaughter now for more than 35 years, the years since her husband's suicide.
Then the detectives went to interview the lawyer of Crane, such Yankowski, a bad guy, who along with teacher painting of the wife of Crane, Adam Potter, he broke down the door of the room, finding Harmon Crane died,: he seems that he had shot a few minutes after talking on the phone just with him, Yankowski. Ends thrown out of the house, when Nameless, accuses him of having paid his court to Amanda for a long time.
There is also the first wife of Crane, such Corneal Ellen, who was blackmailing him. He says it Russ Dancer, a writer of Pulp failed and chronic alcoholic. Russ Crane had known, and reveals himself to Nameless in the course of a drink (but how should this American detectives!) The most interesting things: Crane not had sex with his wife was being blackmailed by his first wife, drank a lot, but it was not all depressed. The investigations shows that the day of the suicide, he had been in his cottage that had been rented by a certain Bertolucci: the chalet now no longer exists in its place there was an oyster farm, then also went to the down the drain. Bertolucci makes the taxidermist (he stuffes with straw the animals) is strange and he evasively answers, so that Nameless suspects he has not said anything about behalf of Crane. One thing he understands: to Bertolucci, Crane was strongly disliked, even if the rent he had paid him forever. He will know that Bertolucci was married (at that time in which Crane had lived), with a beautiful redhead, who then disappeared, ran away they said.
And the brother of the artist Potter, tells him the depression of Crane was initiated the day after the earthquake of 35 years before, on arrival from his vacation in the chalet of his property.
One day a new earthquake devastates San Francisco and vicinity. The earthquake to Nameless is bearer of good feelings: his girlfriend, Kerry Wade, which makes sex so rewarding for both, feeling the shock, she hears a new irresistible urge to have sex, but it is only the desire to be protected , connected to someone. But then Nameless discovers the earthquake has also brought other news: when he goes to interview the new owner of the area where once stood the chalet, he locates by chance, an old unmarked grave, anonymous, that the earthquake has helped to discover: bones have surfaced and what looks like a purse, and a ring. You will find that she is the red dead, Bertolucci's wife, Kate.
Why her bones are located close to the chalet rented to Crane? And Crane killed himself or was he killed? And if he was killed, as was rigged so that the door seemed locked from the inside? And who closed the door rigging it, was the murderer or an accomplice? Nameless will understand after that Bertolucci is killed, especially when he discovers the lifeless body of Michael Kiskadon, who died the same way of his father, found dead just from Nameless, who broke down the door of the room, alerted by the wife of Kiskadon, Lynn . Suicide or murder?
In a novel enjoyable as ever, in the midst of breathtaking descriptions of San Francisco, interspersed by quarrels with his friend investigator Eberhardt, by hilarious
scuffles between Kerry and Wanda, the Eberhardt’s pupa, Nameless will find a disconcerting truth and the answer to many , too many questions left without no satisfaction by a hasty survey ended 35 years before. And the answer will own those bones, found by chance, buried in an old crevasse, opened after the earthquake 35 years ago and again revealed by the new one, and a carbon copy of a letter sent by Crane to his lawyer.
A vintage Pronzini, who does not forget the lessons of the greats of the past (Hake Talbot) and leads us, in a survey never dull, carefully constructed, with withering dialogues and well-aimed descriptions, to an ending that leaves you speechless. And knowing Pronzini, it takes also discouragement.
Because it isn’t said that all the guilties, in reality, pay the penalty for their actions. And seeking the truth takes, most of the time, sufferences. Luckily the epilogue save all, with a final reflection on the philosophy of life, which will riport attention to the things that save us every day: love, understanding, friendship.
A great Pronzini.
As always.

Pietro De Palma


  1. Curtis, did you see I put my article about Pronzini, published at the last year on my italian blog, here? Are you happy now?

  2. I haven't read this Nameless book yet Piero, but clearly I should, sounds really great - thanks.

  3. In recent times, Pronzini has increasingly approximated to the genre Mystery. But the mystery, or at least the themes of the mystery, as the Locked Room, were treated by Pronzini. In his writing and in his plots you hear distant echoes: as the great, also Bill Pronzini didn't forget the lection of the past time.
    It's a question of culture also. Bill Pronzini knows the past of crime genre here comes the Locked Room in its development from that of Hake Talbot, applied in his first novel.

  4. Thanks for posting (sorry so late to this). It's a great enjoyment with Pronzini seeing him link his work with the classical traditions.