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As a long-time Pronzini and Nameless fan, I’m sorry to say that maybe it’s time for Nameless to retire permanently. Betrayers follows the formula that Pronzini has adopted for the Nameless novels in recent years: Multiple story lines/mysteries presented in alternating narration by the principals of the agency: Nameless, Tamara, and Jake Runyon. According to the formula, someone, near the end of the book, will be in grave physical danger, but will somehow save themselves or will be rescued. The story lines will all be resolved and some version of justice will be done. Given these constraints, the novel provides interest, entertainment and satisfaction. Its vivid San Francisco settings and atmospheric descriptions are a Pronzini trademark. It’s a reasonably good read. I’m not complaining here about the formulaic nature of the book, but about the soap-opera flavor that has been included. I’ve noticed this in the past several Nameless novels, but in Betrayers it has reached an almost cringe-inducing level for this listener, at least. I believe this is made worse by Nick Sullivan’s reading. To give him credit, Sullivan is a master of multiple character voices, including both men and women. This makes the narration entertaining and very easy to follow. But I’ve been reading Nameless for over 20 years, and Sullivan does not sound like him. His voice and inflections are a little too light and cheerful for Nameless.
Inclusion of Nameless’ personal relationships and problems has always been part of the series. In fact, those details have no doubt made Nameless so beloved to Pronzini’s readers. However, we now have a family crisis in every book (This one is no exception); Jake’s dreary relationship with his lady friend; and Tamara’s trials and tribulations with her boyfriends. In Betrayers, not one but two of these personal situations generate investigations which become major storylines. It’s all just a bit much for me.