Book: A Wasteland of Strangers

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A Wasteland of Strangers

Author: Bill Pronzini
Publisher: Walker & Company

Set in an isolated town in Northern California, A Wasteland of Strangers begins with the arrival of John Faith in Pomo. Who is he? Why has he come here now, during the off-season when there is nothing to do but get into trouble? What is it he wants? Everyone has an opinion of him, and only a few of them are favorable. For everyone he helps, there are two who question his motives, who see danger to themselves and their way of life in his continual presence in their town. And then, when a beautiful, lonely woman is brutally slaughtered after spending time with him, Faith is the prime and logical suspect. Discovering the identity of the killer becomes as important to Faith as to anyone else, except the murderer.


Here’s a fine modern mystery that would have made a wonderful 1950s B movie. Robert Mitchum would have been perfect as the hulking stranger John Faith, who arrives one day in the faded Northern California resort town of Pomo with a mysterious agenda. Who but Paul Douglas could have played the tough but fair-minded police chief? And the part of Storm Carey, the gorgeous widow feeding her grief with rampant sex, would have been a natural for Jan Sterling or Elisabeth Scott. Bill Pronzini both uses and overcomes these film noir images as he skips from voice to voice to tell a tricky, compelling story. Other books by this excellent writer include Blue Lonesome and—from his Nameless Detective series—Hardcase.

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