Allen J. Hubin

BILL PRONZINI – Jackpot. Delacorte, hardcover, March 1990. Dell, paperback, December 1990.


   Bill Pronzini will find it tough indeed to top his scintillating 1988 “Nameless” novel, Shackles, and he doesn’t with the next, Jackpot, but by any other standard this is a very tasty morsel.

   Nameless is still, months after his harrowing experiences in Shackles, undergoing anxiety attacks and learning new things — not all gratifying — about himself.

   He needs to keep busy at work so his mind is distracted, and he takes on a nothing case as a favor to his friend Kerry. It seems that an otherwise very ordinary chap named David Burnett won $200,000 in a Lake Tahoe casino, then lost it all and more somehow, and committed suicide.

   It’s very plainly suicide, but David’s sister doesn’t believe it, and Nameless, more as a comfort than anything else, agrees to check a few things. The more he checks, the more odor of fish turns up, and in due course it’s likely to be the stink of death, probably his.

   Very smooth and observant narrative.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
       Vol. 12, No. 4, Fall 1990.