Robert B. Parker
An aging of Spenser. The story begins with Pearl being dead on page 2. Spenser and Susan get a Pearl II to replace her with. Paul and his female friend want Spenser to look into a 28 year old killing in Boston. Hawk is heavily involved, now two of Tony's 'teeny bopper black killers' are helping out guard Susan, Vinny is around as well. As are Quirk and a few other buddies. This one is only partially into the mob scene (with a relative newcomer) and drags Jesse Stone from Paradise into the mix.
I have mixed feelings on this one. Yes, I always love Parker's writing style. And the plot has good twists and turns in it. If anything, it seems that Parker is trying to handle criticism that Spenser was too goody-good and didn't have any flaws at all - was the Perfect Man. Spenser still loves to wisecrack and torments random criminals, including one holding a gun to his forehead. But Spenser goes on a drinking binge after killing some guys, wondering if continuing to persue a case that he really didn't need to any more was worth all this death. He lets Pearl II run rampant in his car while driving on a 10 hr highway trip (this after knowing Stephen King was seriously wounded by a guy doing that exact same thing). He has nasty feelings towards a woman just because she's not hugely into dogs. So I do think Spenser was trying to become a bit more 'human' in this one.
There's the usual Hawk involvement, the meetings with Quirk, Vinnie coming along. Spenser goes out to LA and San Diego for research, visiting old haunts. The mob scene is changing - the guy involved in this one isn't a serious character from previous stories. The book also starts to 'merge' with Parker's other books - he brings in Jesse Stone from Paradise who is helpful. I didn't like that very much - in many ways Jesse Stone was the series to bring out a 'young Spenser'. So to have them interacting together was a bit silly seeming, like a bizarre time warp was going on.
Parker actually pokes fun at the way people say his characters don't talk much any more. At one point Hawk says that Susan and Spenser are getting to the point of just using clicks to communicate with each other :) Quite funny.
There's a lot of rehashing of old phrases - I suppose if you were a brand new Spenser reader you wouldn't know all the background of the characters. But to people who have read the series, to keep hearing the *exact same things* about each character every single time can get a bit tiring.
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