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Book Review: Betrayers by Bill Pronzini

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In Nameless’s latest outing, the book isn’t really a novel.  It’s more four novellas shuffled into one long presentation.  His partner, a young black woman named Tamara Corbin, is still smarting over been jilted by an ex-lover.  Feeling betrayed, which is the theme of this book, Tamara decides to find out who this man was and thoroughly screw up his world if he’s got it coming.  He does, because Lucas Zeller turns out to be a con man of the first water.

I really liked Tamara’s story for the most part because this is a revenge tale that pays off.  I’m sure most readers have dealt with some kind of heartbreak or betrayal, and they can empathize with Tamara’s situation and feelings.  However, the investigation gets to be somewhat plodding and repetitious.  It pays off satisfactorily, though, and there is definitely some suspense.

The second story, one of the two that Nameless investigates, has to do with an old woman who is the victim of scare tactics designed to get her out of her house.  The house and property is worth a lot of money, but the woman simply wants to live out her life there.

This tale is a little over the top for me.  Especially when it got to a guy showing up in a sheet trying to scare off the old woman.  The solution came too easily as well, and I was a little disappointed with the endgame.

Jake Runyon’s story has him chasing after a bail jumper for a client.  This one has a little more action in it and possessed more of the sense of a hardcore detective investigation.  There were even reversals that caught me off guard at times.  I wasn’t totally sold on the characters though.  Pronzini usually makes them deeper and more complex.  The motives were clear, as was Jake’s pursuit.

Pronzini also throws a bone to long-time readers because he sets up what will probably be one of the main plots in the next book.  I was somewhat disappointed that the plot did not get resolved in this one, but I’m willing to wait because I do enjoy the series.

Nameless’s second case involves his 13 year old daughter.  From everything I’ve read, Pronzini has never been a father.  I’ve had five kids, including one daughter.  I couldn’t believe Nameless’s reaction when he discovered his daughter brought home a stash of cocaine.  Something like that could have cost him his license, a matter that never seemed to come up.  And I didn’t quite get the way he casually just let her keep her promise not to tell.  Families come first, and the survival of the family unit is paramount.  Kids understand that, and parents know when to point that out when those kids forget.

As a result of his reticence, Nameless potentially breaks a few laws himself by investigating the kids at his daughter’s school.  I had as much of a problem with that as I did with his low-key reaction to the cocaine in his house.  Also, at the very least, I would expect his daughter to flush the drugs down the toilet because she knew they were bad.  Her innocence about everything seemed too convenient to the plot.

I enjoyed the book.  It was a solid base hit for me, but not a home run.  A good writer doesn’t always hit a home run but always delivers a good story.  Betrayers has four of those, and I enjoyed them all.  Fans will enjoy this book as well, but this may not be one for a new reader.  The series, though, is definitely a keeper.

About Mel Odom