Thursday, April 19, 2012

SCHOOL DAYS by Robert B. Parker

Robert B. Parker’s School Days involves a school incursion. Two disaffected students kill several of their fellow students and a teacher at a private school. They use sophisticated 9mm handguns.

The police apprehend both students. One student’s wealthy grandmother hires Spenser to prove her grandson is innocent. The boy left the scene of the murders before authorities could catch him.

Spenser mines several dry holes. He makes one critical mistake which gets a teenaged girl killed. And when he finally works out the story, he finds his client’s grandson is at least technically guilty. When the boy’s case comes before a jury, the jury will convict him, something Spenser thought was probably the case all along.

To me, this book was one of the weakest books in the Spenser series. For one thing, it hit too close to home. All of us have seen several school incursions close up, thanks to TV coverage. We know, not just how terrible they are, but how much grief they cause. The plot has several holes in it. Parker’s laid-back style and approach don’t fit well with such a complicated, grief-laden story.

And the book is slow. In the first third of the book, Spenser interviews people most of whom have no idea what happened.

This is a Spenser-goes-it-almost-alone story. Susan is away at a conference. The book hardly mentions Hawk. Pearl is with Spenser. Those who help are people who have been more minor characters in the previous books. Rita Fiore is the closest Parker comes to including a major secondary character.

Many who read this book gave it good reviews, so don’t just accept what I have to say. But for me, this could have been a better story.

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