Bill Pronzini, author of the long-running “Nameless” PI series, has been chosen by the Mystery Writers of America to receive their 2008 Grand Master Award.

Bill Pronzini- The Snatch

   To make this personal, although he and I have met only once, at a Pulpcon where he was a Guest of Honor several years ago, Bill and I have corresponded since the 1970s. Our common interests have always been detective pulp magazines and collecting obscure mystery fiction, both hardcover and paperback, and facts and information about their authors. Bill’s been a solid supporter of Mystery*File in all of its many shapes and forms, first as a print zine, then the web site, and now the blog.

   We’ve collaborated on several mystery-oriented projects together in recent years, most notably the annotated checklists we did with Victor Berch of the Guilt Edged mystery series from Dutton and the Ziff Davis Fingerprint series. I’m now assisting him in supplementing Bill Deeck’s book Murder at 3 Cents a Day (see the sidebar on the right) by uploading cover images of almost all of the mystery fiction that’s included in it.

   Word of this honor came in a news release from the MWA:

And the 2008 Grand Master is…


   Author Bill Pronzini has been selected to receive the coveted title of Grand Master, Mystery Writers of America’s (MWA’s) highest honor bestowed on an individual. He will be honored at the 62ndAnnual Edgar ® Awards banquet on Thursday May 1, 2008 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. The “Edgars,” as they are commonly known, are named after Mystery Writers of America’s patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are awarded to authors of distinguished works in more than a dozen categories.

   The Grand Master Award represents the supreme level of achievement in the mystery field and was established to acknowledge important contributions to the genre, as well as significant output of consistently high-quality material.

    “Bill Pronzini is not only a passionate author and reader of crime fiction–he is also one of the most ardent proponents of the genre,” said Daniel J. Hale, Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America. “For forty years he has distinguished himself with consistently high-quality writing and editing in all areas of the field, including creating one of the longest lasting detective series ever.”

   Bill Pronzini started down his path toward the Grand Master in 1969, when he embarked upon his professional writing career. Since then, Pronzini has experienced a prolific career, penning more than 70 novels and non-fiction books, including 32 novels in his popular “Nameless Detective” series and three novels written in collaboration with his wife Marcia Muller (MWA’s 2005 Grand Master).

   Pronzini is no stranger to critical acclaim for his achievements. He is a six-time Edgar nominee, including a nomination in 1987 with his wife Marcia Muller for Best Critical Biographical Work, 1001 Midnights: The Aficionado’s Guide to Mystery Fiction. He is also a recipient of three Shamus awards and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America. Pronzini’s suspense novel, Snowbound, was the recipient of the Grand Prix de la Litterature Policière as the best crime novel published in France in 1988.

Bill Pronzini- Savages

    — Thanks to Ed Lynskey for sending the MWA announcement along. See also The Rap Sheet for the coverage there, the best source for mystery-related news around anywhere on the web.

   The link in the first line above will take you to Kevin Burton Smith’s article about Bill on his Thrilling Detective website, complete with a long, and I think complete bibliography of all of Bill’s mystery-related activities: novels, short stories, anthologies and reference works.

   On DorothyL someone wondered if “Nameless” is the longest-running series character still operating today. I’m not sure, not having researched it completely, but for the record, Nameless first appeared in “It’s a Lousy World” aka “Sometimes There Is Justice,” which appeared in the August 1968 issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine). His first novel-length case was The Snatch, hardcover, Random House, 1971. Out earlier this year from Forge was the 31st in the series, Savages.

   Either way, it’s an honor well deserved, and to many of us, one that’s been too long in coming. Now is certainly a fine time, though. Congratulations, Bill!

UPDATE [11-16-07]. It all comes down to a matter of definition, as it almost always does. P. D. James’s Adam Dalgleish first saw the light of print in Cover Her Face, which came out in 1962, and most recently appeared in The Lighthouse, 2005. I’ve not read the latter. Is there anything in it to indicate that this was Dalgleish’s final performance? And even if so, there’s nothing to prevent an encore, is there?

   And there may be other characters with long careers whom I haven’t thought of yet. We may have to qualify “Nameless” as being the longest running PI series character who’s currently active. And it looks as though he’ll be around for a while yet. I sure damn hope so.