"Nice day," Susan murmured.
"For some," I said.
"Not for most?"
"Pretty to think so," I said.
We live in a nasty world. The best of the Spenser stories remind us of that.
In Ceremony, Spenser searches for a run-away teenage girl, April Kyle, who is caught up in prostitution. And the search leads him to institutional corruption, the kind of nastiness that can pervade our governments and bureaucrats.
When Susan asks Spenser why he feels helpless, an outsider almost powerless to stand against all the corruption, he replies, "...mostly it's spending time in a world where fifteen-year-old girls are a commodity, like electrified dildos, or color-coordinated merkins, and crotchless leather panties. It is a world devoted to appetite, and commerce. I think we are in rats' alley where the dead men lost their bones."
And there is only so much Spenser can do about it. He can't save all the abused or exploited teenagers or change the nature of the world. All he can do is help the one child, and that one only partially and only because it works out that way. He might have failed.
This is an excellent story. It reminds me that my staid middle class world hides a larger world where rich oil companies fill the oceans with oil and many politicians enable it.
In an reverse anachronistic way, it reminds me that the staid little blogs I read on the Internet are not what much of cyberspace is all about. Much of cyberspace is filled with pornography and theft.
And it reminds me that human corruption includes trafficking in human beings. Human corruption includes killing or exploiting people to pander to depravity.
Spenser's attempts to fight evil are like throwing feathers in the wind. But still he tries. And still he makes a little difference.
For me, so far at least, this was one of the strongest of the Spenser novels.