Camouflage by Bill Pronzini
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Looking for a hard-boiled group of private investigators who won't rest until they find the rotten egg at the heart of the puzzle? Take a trip to San Francisco and discover what all that fog can really cover up. From abusive step-mothers to cases of stolen identity, the Bay area offers plenty of twists for a Noir-tinged mystery novel.
I wanted a book set in San Francisco to read during a recent vacation to the city, so I picked up this entry in the Nameless Detective series. With a detective of mysterious identity in the spotlight, I expected more of a lone wolf exploring darkened alleys and twisty, Noir-inflected puzzles. But while the Nameless Detective can be described as hard-boiled, he's far from alone. He's the semi-retired head of a detective agency with three other folks working under him. Perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised, because with more than 30 books in his series, he wouldn't be a very good detective if he hadn't garnered some measure of success by this point.
Even though he's not flying solo, the cases he and his team try to solve offer plenty of pathos and twists to spare, so I'd say it's closer to Noir than Agatha Christie, but farther than Raymond Chandler. This time around they've got an abusive step-mother and a possible case of stolen identity to wrestle with. If you'd like a solid detective story with no frills, the Nameless Detective is your guy.
Review by Danny Hanbery