Jake Runyon

Created by Bill Pronzini (1943–)

First appearing in Bill Pronzini‘s Spook (2003), JAKE RUNYON is one of the more intriguing “minor” characters I’ve come across lately.

In the book, Pronzini’s series hero, Nameless (who now, if you haven’t heard, has a name — it’s “Bill”) is going into semi-retirement. He and his young associate and Tamara need someone to help them do field work for the agency. They hire Jake.

Runyon was a cop in Seattle who left the force after being involved in a high-speed chase in which he was injured (a slight limp in one leg) and his partner was killed. After that he worked for a private detective agency in Seattle.

His world fell apart when his wife of 20 years died of cancer. Jake moved to San Francisco, put in one job application with Nameless, and got one job offer. His reason for moving to San Francisco is to re-connect to his son from his first marriage. Joshua’s mother blamed all her problems on Jake’s leaving, and Joshua wants nothing to do with his father. Jake understands and respects this, but still wants to try to know his long-estranged son.

It’s clear that in further novels, Jake is going to take on the bulk of the action. He’s hard-boiled, doesn’t shy from a fight, but doesn’t go looking for one either. He’s an excellent investigator, and in the first book he’s already bonded with his new bosses.

I’m looking forward to seeing Jake develop. Looks like the nameless agency is going to continue to find some intriguing cases, and we readers will reap the rewards.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The above, written by Greg Harness in September 2004, was pretty prescient. Jake has, indeed gone on to become a major player in the Nameless series, as has feisty, impulsive agency manager Tamara Corbin. In fact, Jake has in many ways become what Nameless once was: the loner private eye who throws himself into his work.


Respectfully submitted by Greg Harness.

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