Robert B. Parker was the author of seventy books, including the legendary Spenser detective series, the novels featuring police chief Jesse Stone, and the acclaimed Virgil Cole-Everett Hitch westerns, as well as the Sunny Randall novels. Winner of the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award and long considered the undisputed dean of American crime fiction, he died in January 2010.
In Parker's Small Vices, Boston private eye Spenser was nursed back to health by his sidekick Hawk after being shot by a hit man. Now Spenser helps Hawk seek revenge after his friend is shot in the back. They plot to bring down Boots Podolak and his Ukrainian thugs, who control the nearby black and Hispanic community of Marshport. Assisting the duo are African American gangster Tony Marcus, who's a business associate of Boots, and the Gray Man, the assassin who almost killed Spenser. As with most recent Spenser mysteries, the action is secondary to the banter, with Hawk and Spenser constantly swapping wisecracks and taunting the criminal element. Joe Mantegna, an expert reader of Lawrence Block, Raymond Chandler, and Elmore Leonard, may be the best interpreter of tough-guy fiction, and he excels with Parker's delightful badinage, which pokes fun at the wide gulf between formal English and the vernacular. Recommended for popular collections.-Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Parker/Spenser fans will remember Small Vices (1997), wherein the Boston PI was shot nearly dead and his sidekick Hawk nursed him back to health. This strong new Spenser novel flips that scenario, with Hawk shot and Spenser helping him first to get better, then to take revenge. Their targets are Boots Podolak and his army of Ukrainian thugs who run the black/Hispanic Boston satellite city of Marshport. Their goal is more complicated than just vengeance, though. When Boots's henchmen shot Hawk, they also killed the man he was protecting-a rival of Boots-as well as the man's wife and two of his three children, and now Hawk wants not only to destroy Boots and his operation but to channel millions of Boots's money toward the surviving child. To get at Boots, Spenser and Hawk tap on several series regulars, most notably black gangster Tony Marcus, who is doing business with Boots, and the Gray Man, the assassin who nearly killed Spenser in Small Vices; meanwhile, Susan, Spenser's psychiatrist girlfriend, dispenses sage advice, but stays mostly in the background. The novel features a complicated plot, numerous tough guys and plenty of tension that builds to an (interestingly) off-page mano-?-mano shootout between Hawk and Boots. This isn't Parker's best, nor his best Spenser, and the novel has a slightly rushed quality, but it's sincere, visceral entertainment that will more than satisfy the author's fans. Agent, Helen Brann. (Mar. 3) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.