(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

SHACKLES, Bill Pronzini’s seventeenth book featuring his nameless detective, presents readers with a new wrinkle. “Nameless” has no client this time around. He is working strictly for himself. First, he must contend with the machinations of an anonymous but deadly efficient enemy out of his past. Next, he must personally ferret out the identity and whereabouts of his antagonist. Finally, he must decide what to do in order properly to mete out justice.

As usual, Pronzini writes economically and efficiently. In SHACKLES, however, he also adds to the characterization of his detective hero by giving readers some family background and insight into how the nameless detective came to value law, truth, and service to others as much as he does.

The circumstances of the story, however, challenge some of these values. Nameless plays much more freely with the law than in previous stories. He also totes a gun during the second half of the novel and is even willing to use it. This is utterly foreign to the hero Pronzini has developed carefully over the years. Indeed, the central focus of this book has less to do with the crime which is committed than with what effect being victimized will have on Nameless. As such, the book is most suitable for those already acquainted with Pronzini’s most authentic and successful literary creation, the nameless detective.