I've written about Bill Pronzini numerous times. He will always be a personal favorite, with a strong emphasis on personal. Bill's work always spoke to me in an intimate way. I discovered his work with an early Nameless Detective novel, and I eagerly followed his career since then.

I like everything Bill Pronzini has published. The stand-alone suspense thrillers, the westerns, the horror, but the Nameless books and stories remain among my very, very favorite works of fiction.

I would look forward to the books as they were published. Once a year or so Bill would grace readers with a new Nameless Detective thriller. They are all wonderful. I like the cases Nameless (or Bill, if you prefer) handles, and they were definitely the meat of the matter, but my favorite aspects of the stories were always the details of Nameless's personal life. His longtime relationship with his beloved Kerry, the rocky friendship Nameless had with his ex-partner Eberhart, and his passion for classic pulp detective fiction. His loves and laughs. His outrage at the atrocities human being afflict upon one another. But mostly the essential decency of the character. Which I am thoroughly convinced is a reflection on Bill Pronzini himself.

My wife was out of town when I read Endgame. Despite the title, I had no idea the book would mark the end of the long and storied series featuring the redoubtable Nameless Detective. When I reached the end and realized what it meant, I felt like I was kicked in the chest by a horse. I was gutted and I felt lost and disoriented. It was like I lost one of my best friends. To be honest, Nameless meant more to me than most friends I have had in the real world. The real world is often overrated anyhow.

I read every Nameless book as they came out. With the exception of two of them. I didn't read Double, which is a collaboration between Pronzini and his wife, Marcia Muller. As I understand it, the novel is written in dual chapters, with Nameless trading off with Muller's character, Sharon McCone. I had not, and still have not read a McCone book. Without knowing the character it seemed pointless.

I also did not read Twospot. Twospot is a collaboration with veteran mystery writer Collin Wilcox. Wilcox had a longtime recurring character, a police detective named Frank Hastings. Twospot is a collaboration between the two authors and a story of a collaboration between the two characters. I had never, and still have not, read anything by Wilcox.

The early Nameless Detective books are good reads. Pronzini gradually elevated the series into greatness. Twospot, the fifth in the series, is a pretty enjoyable book, and my unfamiliarity with Hastings didn't hurt a bit.

Nameless gets called to look into shady doings at a California winery. It begins with a possible gold digger who may be trying to gain control of the business through the founder's widow. Tension mounts as violence and murder come into play. Hastings gets called in and takes charge of the investigation, and Nameless believes his work is done. Fat chance.

Business rivalry, clandestine affairs, and possibly extreme right wing terrorism. Or is it even worse?

Twospot is a nicely executed puzzle, and it never excludes the human element. I definitely liked the Nameless sections more than the ones that featured Hastings. That's possibly due to my longtime admiration for the character, but then I doubt I would have read any more Wilcox books had I read Twospot all those years ago. The fact is, private eye/detective fiction isn't my typical reading choice.

Now I am down to the collaboration with Marsha Muller, Double. And that will be it. Nothing but another teary goodbye to my favorite character of all time. At least I can re-read the Nameless Detective novels.

Written by Mark Sieber

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