Friday, March 25, 2011

"Booktaker" by Bill Pronzini

Source: AudioGo (part 1 | 2)
Length: 1 hour, 40 min
Reader: Nick Sullivan

The story: The "Nameless Detective" is the protagonist of Bill Pronzini's long-running hardboiled crime series. In this short story the anonymous gumshoe is hired by the owner of a used and antique bookstore. Some valuable maps and etchings have been stolen from the store, despite the installation of an antitheft system, and suspicion has fallen upon the bookstore's employees.

This is the first of the Nameless Detective stories I've read, and I really enjoyed it as a light read. Besides providing a interesting setting for the mystery, the bookstore locale gives Pronzini a fun chance to pay homage to his antecedents by namedropping some of the the detective novel pulp magazines.  Pronzini doesn't break any molds with this story, but he does hit all the right genre notes with an intriguing locked-room setup, a cast of equally plausible suspects, and enough clues to figure out the solution a step before the protagonist, though I didn't.

Rating: 7 /10

The reader: Nick Sullivan is a professional narrator with excellent acting chops. At first, I thought his reading pace was too slow and deliberate, but when he started voicing the characters, he really was able to shine. This audiobook is being released by AudioGo, which was formerly BBC America. They also released another Nameless Detective story for free at their website. I'm not sure how long these stories will be kept posted, so go ahead and get them if you're interested. (Thanks to Jesse Willis of for pointing out these stories).

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