It's been thirty-five years since Bill Pronzini's The Vanished was published. After hearing Pronzini and Marcia Muller speak, it's going to be interesting to read the series, and see the changes made in that period of time. For instance, in this book, the Nameless Detective is a veteran of the Second World War, in the Pacific. I understand this changes in the course of the series.
As the book opens, it's January, two and a half months after the case in The Snatch, and Nameless is feeling particularly lonely. When Elaine Kavanaugh shows up, saying her fiancé, Roy Sands, has disappeared, he agrees to search for him. It's an unusual case. Roy was leaving the army after twenty years to marry Elaine, and after arriving in San Francisco, he left the Presidio, and disappeared. No one has seen him since, although a few army buddies received money that he owed them. The case will take the detective to Oregon, and Germany, and heartbreak.
The conclusion to The Vanished seems abrupt, and a little rough. However, even in these early books, Pronzini had mastered the phrases to describe loneliness and emotions. At one point, the detective describes Elaine. "I realized the nature of that inexplicable pollutant which had clouded her skin with such inner grayness. It was fear - raw and desperate fear." This second book shows Pronzini growing as an author. There are thirty-one more books in this series, a chance to watch Pronzini become a master.
The Vanished by Bill Pronzini. Random House, ©1973 (hardcover), 181p.
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