is simply one of the masters. He seems to have taken a crack at just about every genre: mysteries, noirish thrillers, historicals, locked-room mysteries, adventure novels, spy capers, men's action, westerns, and, of course, his masterful, long-running Nameless
private detective series, now entering its fourth decade, with no signs of creative flagging.
He's also ghosted several Brett Halliday
short stories as Michael Shayne for Mike Shayne's Mystery Magazine
, and has managed to collaborate with such fellow writers as John Lutz, Barry Wahlberg, Collin Wilcox and Marcia Muller.
Still, if he never ventured into fiction writing, his non-fiction work, as both writer and editor, would still earn him a place in the P.I. genre's Hall of Fame. Besides his two tributes to some of the very worst in crime fiction (what he calls "alternative classics"), Gun in Cheek
and Son of Gun in Cheek
, and one on western fiction (entitled Six Gun in Cheek
, naturally), he's the co-author (with Marcia Muller) of 1001 Midnights
The Mystery Writers of America have nominated him for Edgar Awards several times and his work has been translated into numerous languages and he's published in almost thirty countries. He was the very first president of the Private Eye Writers of America, and he's received three Shamus Awards from them, as well as its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. His passion for the old crime pulps is largely responsible for keeping them in the public's eye. He's amassed a huge collection of books and magazines and has always been an omnivorous reader; all of which made him a natural when it came to editing various anthologies. He admits "it was a pleasure tracking down good stories to fit a particular anthology theme." But after editing 80 or so of them over a period of twenty-some years, he decided it was "more than enough."
Always a critical darling, though never a true best-seller, the twenty-sixth installment in the long-running Nameless
, ended with the intriguing possibility that Nameless and his wife, Kerry, would adopt a child, suggesting a move far from the hard-edged dramas of a lone wolf private eye, and in fact, Pronzini at the time let it be known, in Mystery & Detective Monthly, and perhaps elsewhere, that he wasn't going to write any more Nameless
novels, unless he got an exceptional offer from some publisher. He therefore hoped to end the series on an upbeat note, and to allow for its possible (and from this quarter, much-hoped for) revival.
Well, it came to pass, and he has, in fact, continued the series.
He's also one hell of an editor, helping compile some truly great crime fiction anthologies, as well as writing the three Gun In Cheek
books, humorous non-fiction histories of bad mystery and Western fiction.
Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.