Monday, February 15, 2010
Mortal Stakes by Robert B. Parker
In at least one way, this book brings hard-boiled detective stories back to where they started--
At one point, Spenser tells Linda Rabb, the heroine of this book, "My game has rules too." But at another point, he tells Susan, "The code didn't work."
"The world's not all that clean," he tells a client. "You do what you can, not what you oughta." And that's what happens in this book. No one's story ends in a totally "they lived happily ever after" way.
In other words, being Spenser is not as "romantic" as it seems. He is not just a knight in shining armor. As he says in an earlier book, things do look more messy up close.
Spenser is a man who has to compromise his principles just to come up with less-than-perfect outcomes. And so do all the other "good guys" (and women) in this story. (A brave woman is the real hero here!)
Set in the glitzy world of the Boston Red Sox, this third book in the Spenser series is a huge improvement over the second. It goes back to Parker's clear, forceful writing which drives straight through the story. It is well worth reading, or, in my case, re-reading.