In Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novel The Professional, four women hire Spenser to stop a man from blackmailing them.
Spenser can’t do it. The women won’t prefer charges. The blackmailer won’t desist even if Spenser pummels him. And at least one of the women doesn’t want to break off her relationship with the blackmailer.
The blackmailer is a “professional,” a con man who connects with the wives of rich husbands. Then, almost as a side thought, he moves to blackmail.
So, the first half of the book is Spenser on a fruitless mission. Then someone kills one of the rich husbands.
With murder in the mix, the story starts again about halfway through.
From the murder on, Spenser and the reader know who hired the murder (and a later murder) done. They know the person is a megalomaniac of a special kind. But the problem is she has unbreakable alibis.
There are few surprises in this story. Still, what happens is readable and interesting. As always, the book flows.
I have come to consider the later Spensers to be akin to episodes of “The Rockford Files” or “Magnum PI.” Each time, I know roughly what I’m going to get and how Parker will package it. But I continue to read because I enjoy the characters, the style, and the stories.
I greatly admire Robert B. Parker for the body of his writing. As he approached what we now know are the last few books of his career, he still wrote books I look forward to reading.