Saturday, May 15, 2010
EARLY AUTUMN by Robert B. Parker
Early Autumn by Robert B. Parker features the relational Spenser and the cold-blooded Hawk.
Spenser takes on the responsibility for a 15-year-old boy left adrift by his dysfunctional parents.
The story is a coming-of-age story much like the later Chasing the Bear: A Young Spenser Novel. Together Spenser and the boy build a cabin and work out a direction for the young man's life.
Spenser uses his detective skills to investigate the two feuding parents and, finally, to force them to allow their son Paul to follow his own dream. Spenser and Susan are the only adults in the story who treat Paul as anything other than a pawn in their own chess game.
Meanwhile, Susan feels left out until she becomes involved in helping Paul find a direction. Her anger in this story foreshadows the later, much more serious ups and downs in her relationship with Spenser.
There are no murders in this story until close to the very end.
In this book, Parker puts great emphasis on Spenser's "code." Spenser takes on Paul out of a sense of what Spenser's code demands, and he does it against Susan's advice. I found the code part of this book overdone and somewhat tiresome.
Fortunately for Spenser, Paul is a more typical abandoned teenager than the "bad to the core" teenagers a few of which I got to know when I was teaching. Those teens were a breed apart, truly dangerous. (I also got to know a whole lot of wonderful teens, and that needs to be said too.)
So, for me, this was not a traditional "action-packed" detective novel, but it was a well-written book of a different sort.
And there's one more thing to say. This book has a strong conclusion. If you respond to the ending as I did, you won't soon forget it.