Monday, October 17, 2011

POTSHOT by Robert B. Parker



"We’re all gathering. It’ll be like  
The Big Chill,” [I said].
 “Just like,” Hawk said.

-----

Spenser has been at this a long time. Publication date for the first Spenser novel, The Godwulf Manuscript, was 1973. Potshot, the twenty-eighth book in the series, came out in 2001.

In Potshot, Mary Lou Buckman hires Spenser to run a brutal gang out of Potshot, Arizona. According to Mary Lou, the gang killed her husband Steve because he refused to pay extortion.

Spenser gathers thug friends from across the country. He starts with Hawk, but he goes to other sidekicks from several of the books along the way. Each sidekick is unique. Some of them will not come out of the final fight unscathed.

When Spenser and his sidekicks get to Potshot, things are not what they seem. The story ends up involving the Los Angeles mob, several people who have moved to Potshot, and a backstory having to do with the town itself.

Spenser refuses to take the simple way. He stubbornly risks the lives of his own people to run the shootout by the Spenser code. 

The story has the usual almost-unique-to-Parker dialogue. Susan plays a small part. At one point, Spenser puts her at risk unnecessarily. (This is my opinion, you understand! If I were Spenser, my love for Susan might be among the last things I would want the bad guys to know.)

I have two brief comments about Potshot: (1) It seems to be a kind of summing up, bringing together characters and memories from several books. (2) In some ways, the book seems more related to Parker’s Western novels than to his Spenser series. These are a bunch of gunslingers doing their work.

For me, Potshot was quick and entertaining reading.

2 comments:

Sam said...

In some ways, the book seems more related to Parker’s Western novels than to his Spenser series. These are a bunch of gunslingers doing their work.

Given the cowboy origins of the hard boiled PI, that seems fitting.

Joe Barone said...

Sam,
It does seem fitting. I think I'm dense. I've read most of the Spensers, all of them up to this book (I'm reading through the series in order), and several beyond this book at the time they were published. I just now thought about the connection between Spenser, his thug buddies, and a bunch of cowboy gunslingers. And I do know that hard boiled PI has part of its roots in cowboy stories.

I also read Parker's Westerns and enjoy them. I admire him because of the body of his writing. He didn't quit. He died at his typewriter.