Bill Pronzini

(1943 --; pseudonyms include Jack Foxx, Alex Saxon, Brett Halliday, William Jeffrey, Romer Zane Grey, and Robert Hart Davis)

Bill Pronzini's simply one of the genre's masters. He seems to have taken a crack at just about everything: in the mystery genre: noirish thrillers, historicals, locked-room mysteries, adventure novels, spy capers, men's action and, of course, his masterful, long-running Nameless private detective series, now entering its sixth (sixth!) decade, with no signs of creative flagging. Other long-running privates have risen, crashed and fallen by the wayside, but Nameless has somehow persevered.

He's also ghosted several Michael Shayne short stories under the house name of Brett Halliday for Mike Shayne's Mystery Magazine, and has managed to collaborate with such fellow writers as John Lutz, Barry Wahlberg, Colin Wilcox and Marcia Muller, whom he married in 1992.

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 Muller) of 1001 Midnights, one of the seminal books of crime fiction criticism.

He's also one hell of an editor, helping compile some truly great anthologies, many of them theme-based, in not just crime and detective fiction, but alsi in the horror and western genres.

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 over 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 series, Crazybone (2000) 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, that wish came to pass, and he has, in fact, continued the series on pretty much an annual basis. Nameless now has a name (Surprise, surprise, it's "Bill") and is now semi-retired, but running a small detective agency.

Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all.

* * * * *

Pronzini was born April 13, 1943 in Petaluma, California. Always a voracious reader, he discovered his grandfather's cache of science fiction and mystery digests at about the age of twelve and, a few years later, discovered a stack of pulp magazines in a secondhand bookstore he used to frequent in San Francisco. It was evidently love at first site. His collection now contains some 3000 pulp and digest magazines. It's an obsession from which Nameless, his greatest character, also suffers.

"Nameless owns 6000, but then he’s a lot older than I am.," Pronzini confesses. "Or at least he started out that way."

P:ronzini subsequently attended junior college for a few years, and worked as a newsstand clerk, plumbing supply salesman, warehouseman, sports reporter, office typist, car-park attendent, and a part-time civilian guard for a U.S. marshal transporting federal prisoners ("It sounds a lot more exciting than it was."). He published his first short story, “You Don't Know What It's Like” in the November 1966 issue of Shell Scott Mystery Magazine and by the late sixties he was writing full-time, both under his own name and a slew of pen and house names, pumping out mostly pulp magazine fiction for Leo Margulies’ string of digest magazines. His first novel, The Stalker, was published in 1971 and he was so prolific in those early years that took to writing novels under pseudoyms as well, including Jack Foxx and Alex Saxon, so that he wouldn't spread his own name "too thin." In the early seventies Pronzini traveled in Europe, and actually resided for a time in Majorca and West Germany.

He currently lives in San Francisco with his third wife, Marcia Muller. She is, of course, the creator of private eye Sharon McCone, who's been known to share a stakeout or two with Nameless, and Pronzini and Muller have, in fact, collaborated on numerous short stories and novels over the years.


  • "You Don't Know What It's Like”(November 1966, Shell Scott Mystery Magazine)
  • "Night Freight" (May 1967, MSMM)
  • "The Running Man" (1967)
  • "The Prophecy" (1968)
  • "Words Do Not a Book Make" (May 1968 , AHMM)
  • "It's a Lousy World" (August 1968, AHMM; Nameless; aka "Sometimes There is Justice")
  • "A Lot on His Mind" (October 1968, AHMM)
  • "Waiting, Waiting..." (November 1968, AHMM)
  • "Don't Spend It All in One Place" (December 1968, AHMM)
  • "How Now Purple Cow" (1969)
  • "Retirement" (April 1969, MSMM)
  • "The Snatch" (May 1969, MSMM; Nameless)
  • "A Cold Day in November" (November 1969, AHMM; Nameless)
  • "Dry Spell" (1970)
  • "The Crank" (January 1970, MSMM; Nameless)
  • "Cain's Mark" (January 1970, AHMM)
  • "Death of a Nobody" (February 1970, AHMM; Nameless)
  • "The Way the World Spins" (May 1970, AHMM; Nameless)
  • "A Dip In The Poole" (August 1970, AHMM)
  • "The Facsimile Shop" (September 1970, EQMM; with Jeffrey M. Wallmann)
  • "The $50,000 Bosom" (December 1970, Adventure; Carmody)
  • "The Jade Figurine" (1970, AHMM; as Jack Foxx; Dan Connell)
  • "Perfect Timing" (February 1971, AHMM)
  • "Muggers' Moon" (April 1971, AHMM)
  • "The Man Who Collected `The Shadow'" (June 1971, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • "The Imperfect Crime (July 1971, AHMM)
  • "A Case For Quiet" (August 1971, AHMM; with Jeffrey Wallmann, as William Jeffrey)
  • "The Pattern" (September 1971, AHMM)
  • "Skeletons Go Forth" (October 1971, AHMM)
  • "The Desperate Ones" (November 1971, AHMM; Carmody)
  • "The Killing" (December 1971, AHMM)
  • "The Assignment" (February 1972, AHMM; aka "One of Those Cases"; Nameless)
  • "Decision" (February 1972, Zane Grey's Western; aka "I'll See You to Your Horse")
  • "Blowback" (September 1972, Argosy; Nameless)
  • "Majorcan Assignment" (October 1972, MSMM; aka "Sin Island"; Nameless)
  • "I Don't Understand It" (December 1972, AHMM)
  • "The Web" (1972, AHMM; aka "Death Warrant"; Carmody)
  • "I Wish I May, I Wish I Might" (1973)
  • "Proof of Guilt" (June 1973, EQMM)
  • "The Scales of Justice" (July 1973, AHMM; Nameless)
  • "Buttermilk" (November 1973, Charlie Chan Mystery Magazine)
  • "Thirst" (November 1973, F&SF)
  • "Proof of Guilt" (December 1973, EQMM)
  • "Memento Mori" (April 1974, AHMM)
  • "Incident in Three Crossings" (May 1974, Charlie Chan Mystery Magazine; as Jack Foxx)
  • "Here Lies Another Blackmailer" (June 1974, AHMM)
  • "A Matter of Life and Death" (July 1974, MSMM; with Barry Malzburg)
  • "Unchained" (August 1974, AHMM)
  • "The Pawns of Death" (August 1974, Charlie Chan Mystery Magazine; with Barry Malzburg; credited as by Robert Hart Davis)
  • "For Love" (April 1975, AHMM)
  • "Free-Lance Operation" (May 1975, AHMM; aka "Blood Money"; Carmody)
  • "Private Eye Blues" (July 1975, AHMM; Nameless)
  • "Once a Thief" (August 1975, EQMM; with Jeffrey M. Wallmann)
  • "Inaugral" (1976; with Barry N. Malzberg)
  • "Vanishing Act" (January 1976, AHMM; with Michael J. Kurland)
  • "Multiples" (1976, Tricks and Treats; with Barry N. Malzberg)
  • "Putting the Pieces Back" (April 1976, AHMM)
  • "The Arrowmont Prison Riddle" (October 1976, AHMM)
  • "Sweet Fever" (December 1976, EQMM)
  • "Smuggler's Island" (March 1977, AHMM)
  • "Under the Skin" (October 1977, EQMM)
  • "Deathlove" (1978)
  • "A Cold Foggy Day" (April 1978, EQMM)
  • "Strangers in the Fog" (June 1978, EQMM)
  • "The Same Old Grind" (September 1978, MSMM)
  • "Caught in the Act" (December 1978, EQMM)
  • "Bank Job" (August 1978, EQMM)
  • "His Name Was Legion" (January 1979, MSMM)
  • "Clocks" (1979; with Barry N Malzberg)
  • "Rebound" (April 1979, EQMM; with Barry N. Malzberg)
  • "Black Wind" (September 1979, EQMM)
  • "The Private Eye Who Collected Pulps" (February 1979, EQMM; aka "The Pulp Connection"; Nameless)
  • "Thin Air" (May 1979, AHMM; also A Mystery by the Tale; Nameless)
  • "A Nice Easy Job" (November 1979, EQMM; Nameless)
  • "A Craving for Originality" (December 17, 1979, EQMM)
  • "Peekaboo" (1979, Nightmares)
  • "Where Have You Gone, Sam Spade?" (January 30, 1980, AHMM; Nameless)
  • "Dead Man's Slough" (May 21, 1980, AHMM; Nameless)
  • "Two Weeks Every Summer" (June 2, 1980, EQMM)
  • "The Dispatching of George Ferris" (July 23, 1980, EQMM)
  • "A Killing in Xanadu" (1980, Waves Press limited-edition chapbook; Nameless)
  • "Connoisseur" (1980, Who Done It?)
  • "And Then We Went to Venus" (1980, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • "Opening A Vein" (1980; with Barry N Malzberg)
  • "The Terrarium Principle" (April 22, 1981, EQMM)
  • "The Hanging Man" (August 12, 1981, EQMM)
  • "House Call" (August 19, 1981; with Jeffrey M. Wallmann)
  • "Tiger, Tiger" (September 1981, Mystery; with John Lutz)
  • "Who's Calling?" (1982, Sosetsu Shincho; also 1983, Casefile; Nameless)
  • "Booktaker" (1982, Sosetsu Shincho; also 1983, Casefile; Nameless)
  • "The Ghosts of Ragged-Ass Gulch" (1982, Sosetsu Shincho; Nameless)
  • "Quicksilver (1982, Sosetsu Shincho; Nameless)
  • "Markers" (1982, Roundup: Western Writers of America)
  • "Cat's Paw" (1983; also 1996, Waves Press, also Spadework; Nameless)
  • "Skeleton, Rattle Your Mouldy Leg" (1984, The Eyes Have It; Nameless)
  • "Toy" (1985, Shadows #8)
  • "Sanctuary" (1985, Graveyard Plots; also Suspicious Characters; also 1996, Spadework; aka "Twenty Miles To Paradise"; Nameless)
  • "Boobytrap" (1986)
  • "Pumpkin" (1986)
  • "Ace in the Hole (1986, Mean Streets; also 1996, Spadework; Nameless)
  • "The Storm Tunnel" (October 1987, Whispers)
  • "Deathwatch" (1987, Mystery Scene Reader #1)
  • "Stacked Deck" (1987, The New Black Mask No.8)
  • "Incident in a Neighbourhood Tavern" (1988, An Eye for Justice; Nameless)
  • "Something Wrong (1988, Small Felonies; also 1996, Spadework; Nameless)
  • "Cache and Carry" (1988, Small Felonies; with Marcia Muller; Nameless)
  • "Little Lamb" (1988, Felonius Assaults)
  • "No Room at the Inn" (1988, Crime at Christmas; Quincannon)
  • "Whodunit?" (1988, Small Felonies)
  • "Wooden Indian" (March 1989, AHMM)
  • "Funeral Day" (1989, New Crimes)
  • "Here Comes Santa Claus" (1989, Mistletoe Mysteries; also 1996, Spadework; Nameless)
  • "Stakeout" (1990, Justice for Hire; also 1996, Spadework; Nameless)
  • "I Didn't Do It" (1990, New Crimes 2)
  • "The Gambler" (1990, New Frontiers, Volume I)
  • "Fyfe and the Drummers" (1990, New Frontiers, Vol. III)
  • "I Didn't Do It" (1990, New Crimes 2)
  • "La Bellezza delle Belleze" (1991, Invitation to Murder; Nameless)
  • "Bedeviled" (1991, Cat Crimes; also 1996, Spadework; Nameless)
  • "Out Behind the Shed" (1991, Final Shadows)
  • "Souls Burning" (1991, Dark Crimes; also New Crimes 3; 1996, Spadework; Nameless)
  • "Liar's Dice" (November 1992, EQMM)
  • "Shade Work" (November 1993, EQMM)
  • "Kinsmen" (1993, Criminal Intent; Nameless)
  • "Burgade's Crossing" (1993, Louis L'Amour Western Magazine; Quincannon)
  • "Lady One-Eye" (September 1994, Louis L'Amour Western Magazine; Quincannon)
  • "Coney Game" (November 1994, Louis L'Amour Western Magazine; Quincannon)
  • "The Cloud Cracker" (July 1994, Louis L'Amour Western Magazine; Quincannon)
  • "Out of the Depths" (September 1994, EQMM)
  • "Cat Bay On Cat Cay" (1995)
  • "One Night at Delores Park" (April 1995, EQMM; also 1996, Spadework; Nameless)
  • "Home is the Place Where" (November 1995, EQMM; also 1996, Spadework; Nameless)
  • "The Desert Limited" (November 1995, Louis L'Amour Western Magazine; Quincannon)
  • "Bomb Scare" (December 1995, EQMM; also 1996, Spadework; Nameless)
  • "Angel of Mercy" (1996).
  • "Worried Mother Job" (1996, Spadework; 1998, EQMM; Nameless)
  • "Zero Tolerance" (1996, Spadework; also January 1998, EQMM; Nameless)
  • "Not A Lick Of Sense" (1997)
  • "The Horseshoe Nail" (February 1997, EQMM; Quincannon)
  • "Medium Rare" (September/October 1998, EQMM; Quincannon)
  • "The Highbinders" (1998, Carpenter & Quincannon Professional Detective Services; also June 1999, EQMM; Quincannon)
  • "Wishful Thinking" (1999, Irreconcilable Differences)
  • "I Think I Will Not Hang Myself Today" (May 2000, EQMM)
  • "The Big Bite" (Winter 1999, Shots; also 2000, The Shamus Game; Nameless)
  • "Chip" (2001, Mystery Scene #71)
  • "Wrong Place, Wrong Time" (2002, Most Wanted; Nameless)
  • "Free Durt" (February 2005, EQMM)
  • "The World by the Tail" (March/April 2005, EQMM)
  • "Quincannon in Paradise" (November 2005, EQMM : Quincannon)
  • "Possibilities" (2005, The Strand Magazine #17)
  • “Devil’s Brew” (December 2006, EQMM; Quincannon & Carpenter)
  • "The Winning Ticket" (June 2007, EQMM; Nameless)
  • "The Carville Ghost" (September/October 2007, EQMM; Quincannon & Carpenter)
  • "Pickpocket" (September/October 2007, EQMM; Sabina Carpenter; with Marcia Muller)
  • "A Matter of Justice" (February 2008, EQMM; with Barry N. Malzberg)
  • "What Happened to Mary?" (September/October 2008, EQMM
  • "Burglarproof" (February 2010, EQMM
  • "The Body Snatchers" (July 2010, EQMM; Quincannon & Carpenter)
  • "The Last Laugh" (September/October 2010, EQMM)
  • "The Chatelaine Bag" (June 2011, EQMM; Quincannon & Carpenter; with Marcia Muller)
  • "Man Cave" (September/October 2011, EQMM
  • "Always Her Eyes" (March/April 2012, EQMM; with Barry N. Malzberg)
  • "Femme" (2013; Nameless)...Buy this book
  • "Neighbors"(March/April 2013, EQMM)

  • Others, un-dated so far...
  • "All the Long Years"
  • "Cave of Ice" (with Marcia Muller)
  • "Changes"
  • "The Clincher"
  • "Dear Poisoner"
  • "Defect"
  • "Fergus O'Hara, Detective"
  • "Hero"
  • "A Little Larceny"
  • "McIntosh's Chute"
  • "Mrs. Rakubian"
  • "On Guard!" (with Michael J. Kurland)
  • "One of Those Days"
  • "Outrageous"
  • "Righteous Guns"
  • "Shell Game" (with Jeffrey M. Wallmann)
  • "Skeletons"





  • Tricks and Treats (1976, with Joe Gores)
  • Midnight Specials (1977)
  • Mystery Writers' Choice (1977; with Joe Gores)
  • Dark Sins, Dark Dreams: Crime in Science Fiction (1978; with Barry N Malzberg)
  • The End of Summer: Science Fiction of the Fifties (1979; with Barry N Malzberg)
  • Shared Tomorrows (1979; Barry N Malzberg)
  • Night Screams (1979; with Barry N Malzberg)
  • Werewolf! (1979)
  • Bug-Eyed Monsters (1980; with Barry N Malzberg)
  • The Edgar Winners (1980)
  • Voodoo! (1980)
  • Mummy!: A Chrestomathy of Crypt-ology (1980)
  • The Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Supernatural (1981; with Martin H Greenberg & Barry N Malzberg)
  • Creature!: A Chrestomathy of Monstery (1981)
  • Great Tales of Mystery and Suspense (1981; with Martin H Greenberg & Barry N Malzberg)
  • The Arbor House Necropolis (1981)
  • The Giant Book of Horror Stories (1981; with Martin H Greenberg & Barry N Malzberg)
  • The Arbor House Treasury of Mystery and Suspense (1982; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Specter! (1982)
  • Arbor House Treasury of Detective and Mystery Stories from the Great Pulps (1983)
  • The Web She Weaves (1983; with Marcia Muller)
  • The Mystery Hall of Fame: An Anthology of Classic Mystery and Suspense Stories Selected by Mystery Writers of America (1984)
  • The Western Hall of Fame: An Anthology of Classic Western Stories Selected by the Western Writers of America (1984; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Child's Ploy (1984; with Marcia Muller)
  • The Outlaws (1984)
  • The Reel West (1984; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Witches' Brew: Horror and Supernatural Stories by Women (1984; with Marcia Muller)
  • 13 Short Mystery Novels (1985; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Chapter and Hearse (1985; with Marcia Muller)
  • The Cowboys (1985; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • The Ethnic Detectives: Masterpieces of Mystery Fiction (1985; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • The Arbor House Treasury of Great Western Stories (1985)
  • Dark Lessons: Crime And Detection On Campus (1985; with Marcia Muller)
  • She Won the West (1985; Marcia Muller)
  • The Warriors (1985; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Deadly Arts (1985; with Marcia Muller)
  • The Second Reel West (1985; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Murder in the First Reel (1985; Martin H Greenberg & Charles G Waugh)
  • Wickedest Show on Earth (1985; with Marcia Muller)
  • Women Sleuths (1985; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Mystery in the Mainstream: An Anthology of Literary Crimes (1986; Martin H Greenberg & Barry N Malzberg)
  • Tales of the Dead (1986)
  • Great Modern Police Stories (1986)
  • Railroaders (1986; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Steamboaters (1986; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • The Third Reel West (1986; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • The Cattlemen (1986; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Tales of Mystery (1986)
  • 101 Mystery Stories (1986)
  • Wild Westerns (1986)
  • Prime Suspects (1987; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Manhattan Mysteries (1987; with Martin H Greenberg & Carol-Lynn Waugh)
  • Horse Soldiers (1987; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Uncollected Crimes (1987; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Suspicious Characters (1987; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • The Gunfighters (1987; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • 13 Short Detective Novels (1987; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Criminal Elements (1988; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Cloak and Dagger: A Treasury of 35 Great Espionage Stories (1988; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • The Texans (1988; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Best of the West: Stories That Inspired Classic Western Films (1988; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Homicidal Acts (1988; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Felonious Assaults (1989; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Kill or Cure: Suspense Stories About the World of Medicine (1989; with Marcia Muller)
  • More Wild Westerns (1989)
  • Californians (1989; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • The Arizonans (1989)
  • Deadly Doings (1989)
  • Best of the West 3: More Stories That Inspired Classic Western Films (1990)
  • The Northerners (1990; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • The Best of the West II: The Stories That Inspired Classic Western Films (1990)
  • The Northwesterners (1990; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Christmas Out West (1990; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Crime and Crime Again: Unexpected Mystery Stories by the World's Great Writers (1990; with Martin H Greenberg & Barry N Malzberg)
  • Classic Tales of Horror and the Supernatural (1991)
  • A Treasury of Civil War Stories (1991; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • A Treasury of World War II Stories (1991)
  • Combat!: Great Tales of World War II (1992; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Night Freight (1992)
  • Great Tales of Horror and the Supernatural (1994; with Martin H Greenberg & Barry N Malzberg)
  • Great Tales of the West (1994; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Hard-boiled (1994; with Jack Adrian)
  • A Century of Mystery: 1980-1989 (1997; with Marcia Muller)
  • Giant Book of Private Eye Stories (1997; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Giant Book of Short Crime Stories (1997; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Giant Book of War Stories (1997; with Martin H Greenberg)
  • Detective Duos (1997; with Marcia Muller)
  • Duo (1998; with Marcia Muller)
  • Heading West (1999)
  • Pure Pulp (1999; with Ed Gorman)
  • Oddments (2000)
  • More Oddments (2001)


An interesting interview from 1996 with Bill Pronzini and his wife. Marcia Muller, on how they've found the write stuff in one another and in their (then)15-year relationship. Written by David Templeton.

August, 2002 interview conducted by Jon Jordan.

When I said had written locked room mysteries, that was an understatemtn. in fact, he's a modern day master of the form, having craft numerous "impossible crime" shorts stories and novels, both in the Nameless series and as standalones. This pafge, part of the sprawling Locked Room Mysteries site, tries to list them all.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Bluefox808 for the tip.

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