Reviewed: July 19, 2005
By: Robert B. Parker
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
304 pages, $10.99
Six Krispie Kreme donuts might not
seem like a big retainer for a case involving a 28 year old murder, but Spenser
has a soft spot for Paul Giacomin, who has sort of been his ward since he
was in his teens, so when Paul arrives with Daryl Silver, an actor in his
most recent stage play, Spenser listens to her request.
Daryl's mom was killed in a bank robbery
when Daryl was just a child. The case was never solved, and Daryl has developed
a burning need for closure. Spenser issues what is a fairly standard warning
for him, that once he begins a case he will finish it, even if the client
doesn't want him to. Daryl obviously wasn't listening hard enough while he
In the course of the story Daryl learns
more than she really wants to know about her background, her parentage, and
the circumstances of her mother's death.
In a very short time Spenser learns
a number of very confusing things and receives a number of warnings from some
very serious sounding people. He should walk away from this case or he will
be hurt. Clearly, they don't know him very well - haven't been reading the
books. Several people die. None of them are Spenser, or Hawk, who has joined
him for backup at at point.
Once the bad guys get really stupid
and threaten Susan Silverman, it is clear that they are not intelligent people
and that they are pretty desperate about hiding the secret of Emily Gold's
death. That alone is enough to make Spenser more curious.
There's more. Quirk, a Boston policeman
who often turns a blind eye to Spenser's bending of procedure, is curious
about this case, as is Epstein, an FBI agent who has become anxious about
certain files that are supposed to exist, but don't. Whatever else Spenser
might think about the FBI, he has never accused them of sloppy filing.
The case meanders from the east coast
to the west, staggers through two messy shoot-outs, and winds its way through
an elaborate cover-up before we get anywhere near the truth.
In the meantime, Spenser and Susan
are training a replacement for Pearl, the wonder dog, who has apparently died
in a book that I must have missed. Pearl II is supposed to become as much
like the original model as possible, which leads to some moments of levity
in an otherwise fairly violent episode of the Spenser saga.
Also of interest for Parker fans is
the fact that this novel wanders into Paradise territory and police chief
Jesse Stone, the central character in Parker's second series. Jesse is only
too happy to assist unofficially in a case which involves a Paradise based
hoodlum he's been keeping an eye on.
I half expected Spenser to sub-contract
some work to Boston based Sunny Randall as well, but that'll have to wait
for another book.
Spenser novels are a summer travelling
pleasure for me. It's nice to settle into a user friendly, familiar universe
for a few hours when you're away from home yourself. The setting, the banter,
the friendships and the love are probably more important than the actual mystery,
but it stands up okay too.