Thursday, December 30, 2010

WALKING SHADOW by Robert B. Parker


It is difficult to identify a walking shadow, and that's the way it is in Robert B. Parker's Spenser novel Walking Shadow.

The Port City Theater Company hires Spenser to find the person who is stalking its director. 

"Hires" is a loose word, since they don't have money to pay him.  Spenser takes the job because Susan is on the theater board. 

But that's not the real beginning of the story.  The story begins after that when a masked person walks into a theater performance and murders the lead.  He kills the man (who is performing in a terrible play) with one clean shot.

And from there the story weaves in and out of the importation of Chinese aliens to work in the fish processing plants and elsewhere, the Chinese mob and how it works, the history of the people involved including the town's sheriff, and much more.

I thought this was a more-closely-plotted book than some Spenser novels are.  As always, it was a good book to read.

Sometimes as I read Parker, I wonder how much his plots are triggered by his wide reading. 

In this book, Hawk mentions the Hemingway story, "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," and indeed, there are some similarities between Parker's Walking Shadow and that story.

Spenser and Hawk are both well read.  In some of the books, a part of the story is how they live their reading.

And I have one other small comment.  Along the way, I ran across an interesting typo.  In one place, the book referred to the hero as Spencer.  That made me feel vindicated for the times I've done the same thing.

I know how the character came to be named.  Again from literature.  But sometimes I distractedly forget how to spell.  It did me good to know that can happen to typesetters and proofreaders too.

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