Bill Pronzini. The Snatch (1971) 213 pp.
The first novel in the long-running “Nameless Detective” series. The private detective is forty-seven years old, he is an ex-San Francisco cop, he lives alone in a flat in a Pacific Heights Victorian, he has a girlfriend named Erika, he has a good working relationship with the local police, he smokes too much and is struggling to quit, and he collects and reads 1930s and ‘40s pulp magazines. The only thing the reader is not told is the detective’s name. In the affluent Peninsula town of Hillsborough, fifteen miles south of San Francisco, the young son of self-made millionaire Louis Martinetti has been snatched from his school and is being held for ransom. The detective is hired to be the bag man for the ransom drop. It was supposed to be a simple job, but when someone hijacks the ransom money the kidnapper ends up dead and the detective is seriously wounded ... and no one knows where the boy is being held. Martinetti asks the detective to stay on the job. The investigation leads back to San Francisco and uncovers several dirty family secrets. A shorter, different version of the novel appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine in May 1969 under the same title.
Setting: Hillsborough (San Mateo County); San Francisco