Monday, March 8, 2010

Promised Land by Robert B. Parker

"This above all: to thine own self be true,

"And it must follow, as the night the day,

"Thou canst not then be false to any man."

Polonius in Hamlet 


If there is a book which illustrates the truth of Polonius' words, it is surely Robert Parker's Promised Land.

The book is filled with two kinds of main characters, those who are true to themselves and those who listen to other siren songs.  

Spenser accepts the case of a runaway wife.  She has joined a militant feminist group, being what they think she should be rather than who she really is.  She is trying to find herself, but she is not there yet.  In her attempt to be part of the group, she takes part in a bank robbery-murder.

Her husband is in deep trouble too.  He is trying to live up to what his father wanted him to be, what he thinks his wife wants him to be. He goes into debt to a Shylock.  (I need to keep hanging on to Shakespeare here!)  His new real estate development, Promised Land, won't survive without the money.  He is a much worse wimp than she is.

To make things worse, Hawk is the enforcer charged with beating the man, making him turn his development and real estate business over to the mob.

So, that's the set up. If it sounds dated, that's because it is, but that doesn't lessen the power of the story.  This book is also filled with people who are, in their own ways, true to themselves. Spenser lives according to his convoluted code. Susan loves Spenser but, in some ways, she holds him at a distance. She doesn't want to lose herself.  And Hawk makes the kind of decisions only Hawk could make.  

This story is at the heart of the Spenser myth.  It introduces Hawk. It portrays the characters as they develop.  It shows these people as they struggle to get to know one another.  This is the good time before these characters became more set in stone.

For me, Parker always writes a good story.  I only know one book in this whole series which struck me as not worth reading. But some Spenser books are better than others, and this is one of the best.

As I said, it is dated, much more so than some of the other early books, but it is still a great story with strong characters.  

I was glad to get to read this book again. 

PS I read Promised Land on the Kindle.  That edition was rife with errors.  I've not seen that in other books I've read on the Kindle, but this one had more typos than I would have in one of my unedited manuscripts.  If you want to read this book, I suggest you buy the paperback, a used book, or go to a good library.  They surely have it there.


pattinase (abbott) said...

That's odd. I would think there would be no more error than in the latest ms.

Joe Barone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Barone said...

As I've gotten older, I struggle with errors I didn't struggle with when I was younger. But I love to write, so I keep on writing and trying to beat them back.

Joe Barone said...

Patti, I wasn't sure exactly what you meant, but to clarify, this electronic edition looked as if it were read into a voice to text program and then not carefully edited.