Review: The Vanished by Bill Pronzini

The 2nd book of the Nameless Detective series following closely after the events of the first book, The Snatch, this is another case for the San Francisco-based private investigator that establishes the solid way in which he works. At this point the series is early in its development and we are just getting to know the detective on both a professional and a personal level.

Book Details

Title : The Vanished
Author : Bill Pronzini
ISBN : 9780394481708
Pages : 181
Published Date : 1973
Publisher : Random House
Sub-Genre : Private Detective, Hardboiled
Main Characters : Nameless Detective

The Vanished is available at

Publisher's Synopsis

His name was Roy Sands, and he had everything to look forward to. He was getting out of the service and coming home to marry his beautiful Fiancee. He had his debts paid, money in the bank, and a happy new life ahead of him. Then he disappeared.​

Review of The Vanished

The second book in the Nameless Detective series, The Vanished starts with a missing person case as the detective is hired by a woman to find her fiancee. The man has recently been discharged from the military. He was on his way home with three of his buddies when he mysteriously disappeared along the way.

Roy Sands appears to have a very positive future lying ahead of him. He was discharged from the military with plenty of money and he has a gorgeous woman waiting for him. There really should be no reason for him to disappear.

The leads that present themselves to the detective come from the fact that he was travelling with three fellow discharged men. They were his buddies in the army and could possibly give him some insight into his character and what might have diverted him from his trip home.

The stand out feature of The Vanished is the detective himself and the dogged determination and clear-minded thinking that he uses when on the case. He is prepared to follow every possible clue and keep his case moving forward and this is an important factor for holding the reader’s interest.

There is also no doubt that the detective is not a maverick willing to work outside the law to get his job done. At every turn, when the need arises he is strong and determined but he is also empathetic and respectful of others. It marks him as a man with a great deal of complexity and also makes him a protagonist you can like.

The cough that had plagued him in the first book is still with him, as is his addiction with cigarettes. It's an ongoing problem that continues to worry him and also hampers his job as a detective.

Also carrying on from The Snatch is his separation from girlfriend Erika Stone. Sure, he's not quite over the relationship when the story begins as the following piece suggests:

A weekday morning four days after the one night in the year which should not be spent alone, a night I had spent alone, a night when I said “Happy New Year!” to a roomful of silent emptiness and toasted Erika and toasted my convictions and toasted the fact that it was a new year and yet nothing had changed. A weekday morning like all the rest: cold, purposeless, giving birth to philosophical reflections which degenerate rapidly into more than morbid self-pity.

Although it appears that Nameless is wallowing in self-pity, this is really as low as he gets. The brief contemplation is made at the beginning of the book and provides the closure that is required from the break up that occurred near the end of The Snatch.

I have read a lot of hardboiled detective books over the years but somehow had never managed to track down the books from the Nameless series. Now, thanks to the wonders of electronic readers I have made a late start. I’m really glad that I did and The Vanished confirms that this is a series I want to read more of. Nameless is the kind of protagonist I am prepared to hitch my wagon to and follow on his journey. Knowing ahead of time that there are around 36 more stories to read only sweetens the deal.

You can get more information about the Nameless Detective and find a listing of all of the Bill Pronzini books in order by visiting the Bill Pronzini author page.

This book is the second book in the Nameless Detective series. The next book in the series is titled Undercurrent.