The Nameless Detective

There are so many detective novels and fun detective series that it’s really not useful or even possible to focus on labels such as “The Best.” If you spend any time perusing my Inventory of books read, you might notice some clues of my own preferences: I read all the Spenser books by Robert B. Parker starting with the fourth or fifth title; I read all of the Ludlum books before the author died and the same thing goes for John D. MacDonald’ s Travis McGee; I read all the Fletch books and followup novels; I read all or most of the novels by authors such as Gregory Maguire, Laurence Sanders, and especially George Simenon (actually I have read more Maigret novels than any other but Simenon wrote so many).

It goes without saying that I have read a great deal of the early masters, Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, and Arthur Conan Doyle.

For a period I was living with a librarian who introduced me to most of the better mystery or detective novelists. Two of her favorites were interestingly married to each other: Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini. I haven’t read much Muller but I found Pronzini a skilled writer and his Nameless Detective an admirable detective (without being flashy or unrealistic).

This last month or two I have been reading genre fiction of the detective variety and was once again entertained by a couple of Pronzini works. The first was the premier Nameless Detective novel, The Snatch, about a kidnapping ransom drop that went awry, and the second was a well crafted novel about a serial rapist written in a style using multiple narrators (The Violated: not like Rashomon; more like The Moonstone only much shorter).

Suffice it to say, I’m looking forward to reading a few more novels by Bill Pronzini and might even try one or two by Marcia Muller. Here is a peek at Pronzini’s considerable output:

Nameless Detective Novels


The Snatch, Random House, (1971)
The Vanished, Random House, (1973)
Undercurrent, Random House, (1973)
Blowback, Random House, (1977)
Twospot, Putnam, (1978), (with Collin Wilcox)
Labyrinth, St. Martin’s, (1980)
Hoodwink, St. Martin’s, (1981)
Scattershot, St. Martin’s, (1982)
Dragonfire, St. Martin’s, (1982)
Bindlestiff, St. Martin’s, (1983)
Case File (short stories), St. Martin’s, (1983)
Quicksilver, St. Martin’s, (1984)
Nightshades, St. Martin’s, (1984)
Double, St. Martin’s, (1984), (with Marcia Muller)
Bones, St. Martin’s, (1985)
Deadfall, St. Martin’s, (1986)
Shackles, St. Martin’s, (1988)
Jackpot, Delacorte, (1990)
Breakdown, Delacorte, (1991)
Quarry, Delacorte, (1992)
Epitaphs, Delacorte, (1992)
Demons, Delacorte, (1993)
Hardcase, Delacorte, (1995)
Spadework (short stories), Crippen & Landru, (1996)
Sentinels, Carroll & Graf, (1996)
Illusions, Carroll & Graf, (1997)
Boobytrap, Carroll & Graf, (1998)
Crazybone, Carroll & Graf, (2000)
Bleeders, Carroll & Graf, (2002)
Spook, Carroll & Graf, (2003)
Scenarios (short stories), Forge Books, (2005)
Nightcrawlers, Forge Books, (2005)
Mourners, Forge Books, (2006)
Savages, Forge Books, (2007)
Fever, Forge Books, (2008)
Schemers, Forge Books, (2009)
Betrayers, Forge Books, (2010)
Camouflage, Forge Books, (2011)
Hellbox, Forge Books, (2012)
Kinsmen, (novella), Cemetery Dance Publications, (2012)
Femme, (novella), Cemetery Dance Publications, (2012)
Nemesis, Forge Books, (2013)
Strangers, Forge Books, (2014)
Vixen, Forge Books, (2015)
Zigzag (collection) Forge Books, (2016)
Endgame, Forge Books, (2017)



The Stalker (1971)
Panic (1972)
The Jade Figurine (1972)
Snowbound (1974)
Dead Run (1975)
Freebooty (1976)
Games (1976)
The Running of Beasts (1976) (with Barry N. Malzberg)
Acts of Mercy (1977) (with Barry N. Malzberg)
Wildfire (1978)
Night Screams (1979) (with Barry N. Malzberg)
A Killing in Xanadu (1980)
Prose Bowl (1980) (with Barry N. Malzberg)
The Cambodia File (1981) (with Jack Anderson)
Masques (1981)
Duel at Gold Buttes (1981) (with Jeffrey M. Wallmann)
Border Fever (1983) (with Jeffrey M. Wallmann)
Day of the Moon (1983) (with Jeffrey M. Wallmann)
The Gallows Land (1983)
The Eye (1984) (with John Lutz)
Starvation Camp (1984)
The Lighthouse (1986) (with Marcia Muller)
The Last Days of Horse-Shy Halloran (1987)
Firewind (1989)
The Hangings (1989)
With an Extreme Burning (aka The Tormentor) (1994)
Blue Lonesome (1995)
A Wasteland of Strangers (1997)
Nothing But the Night (1999)
In an Evil Time (2001)
Step to the Graveyard Easy (2002)
The Alias Man (2004)
The Crimes of Jordan Wise (2006)
The Other Side of Silence (2008)
The Hidden (2010)
The Violated (2017)
Give-A-Damn Jones (2018)
The Peaceful Valley Crime Wave (2019)

Carpenter and Quincannon Mysteries

Quincannon (1985)
Beyond the Grave (1986) (with Marcia Muller)
Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services (1998, short stories)
Quincannon’s Game (2005)
The Bughouse Affair (2013) (with Marcia Muller)
The Spook Lights Affair (2013) (with Marcia Muller)
The Body Snatchers Affair (2015) (with Marcia Muller)
The Plague of Thieves Affair (2016) (with Marcia Muller)
The Dangerous Ladies Affair (2017) (with Marcia Muller)
The Bags of Tricks Affair (2018)
The Flimflam Affair (2019)

Short Story Collections

Graveyard Plots (1985)
Small Felonies (1988)
The Best Western Stories of Bill Pronzini (1991)
Stacked Deck (1991)
Criminal Intent 1 (1993)
Carmody’s Run (A Short Novel Plus Three) (1993)
Duo (1998) (with Marcia Muller)
Carpenter and Quincannon: Professional Detective Services (Crippen & Landru, 1998)
Sleuths (1999)
Oddments (2000)
More Oddments (2001)
All the Long Years (Western Stories) (2001)
Problems Solved (Crippen & Landru, 2003) (with Barry N Malzberg)
Burgade’s Crossing (2003)
On Account of Darkness and Other SF Stories (2004) (with Barry N Malzberg)
Coyote and Quarter-Moon (2006)
Crucifixion River (Western Stories) (2007) (with Marcia Muller)
Dago Red (2010)
The Cemetery Man (2014)
Zigzag (2016)
A Little Red Book of Murder Stories (2016)


As William Hart Davis
Charlie Chan in The Pawns of Death (2002) (with Jeffrey Wallmann)
As Jack Foxx
The Jade Figurine (1972)
Incident in Three Crossings (1974) (Short Story)
Dead Run (1975)
Freebooty (1976)
Wildfire (1978)
As William Jeffrey
Duel at Gold Buttes (1981) (with Jeffrey Wallmann)
Border Fever (1983) (with Jeffrey Wallmann)
Day of the Moon (1983) (with Jeffrey Wallmann)
As Alex Saxon
A Run in Diamonds (1973)
The Dying Time (1999)


Gun in Cheek: An Affectionate Guide to the Worst in Mystery Fiction (1982)
1001 Midnights (1986) (with Marcia Muller)
Son of Gun in Cheek: An Affectionate Guide to More of the “Worst” in Mystery Fiction (1987)
Six Gun in Cheek: An Affectionate Guide to the “Worst” in Western Fiction (1997)

One thought on “The Nameless Detective

  1. Thanks for the list, Michael! I read most of the Nameless books ages ago – really love the character. I’m at least up through Nemesis, can’t recall about Strangers, have to check on that one. If you haven’t read Shackles (1988), I found it awesome! It is the one that sticks in my memory. I actually discovered the Nameless series through a character crossover in Muller’s Sharon McCone series. I think it must be Double.

    With Muller I’ve read through The Night Searchers. And just learned of the Carpenter and Quincannon series a few weeks ago. I have already grabbed four of them which I found used, but didn’t know about the first one, Quincannon, or the others prior to 2013, so I’ll have to watch for them. Haven’t had a chance to try one yet.


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