Tuesday, April 27, 2010



This is classic Spenser, one of the best.

I say that early because I'm probably going to talk about some esoteric things which might cause you to quit reading.  But this story of Spenser's attempt to guard and then find a controversial Lesbian writer is one of Parker's best.

There is little to say about the plot.  It is clearly told in a straightforward manner.   Spenser takes the job.  In a way, Spenser botches the job.  And then Spenser finds the kidnapped woman.  

There is no Hawk in this story.  There is Susan, but not so much as to take over the story.  To me, the most interesting minor character was a fledging cop named Foley who still wore his Vietnam ribbons on his police uniform.  This young man has a small part in the story, but he is a breath of fresh air.  He defies his superiors to do the right thing.

And  now to the esoteric stuff.  This book, like several of the others, deals with the "code."  At one point, Susan tells Spenser, "...you're willing to go after her alone and risk the whole thing, including both your lives, because your honor has been tarnished, or you think it has."

In other words, the detective's code (something in the background of most of these kinds of books) is just male macho in disguise.   Sometimes the independent women in the PI's life may see the code as necessary, practical, but still, they don't admire it all that much.

And the second little thing.  Some parents with anti-gay feelings have those feelings precisely because they have a gay child themselves.  I know that to be true.  I've seen it over the years.

We are interesting people, aren't we?  And so it is with Spenser, too.

One other thought.  Rachel is grateful to Spenser, but she doesn't like him very much.  I can see how Rachel might not have liked Parker very much either.  She might have thought he was writing fiction about something that was none of his business.  Just a thought.


Richard R. said...

I liked this book more than you did, judging from your review, even with the up front comments. It was the first or second Spenser novel I read, and I enjoyed it, thought the story made sense. I had then, and have now, no problem with the "code". I'd read plenty of Hammett, Chandler, MacDonald and I understood that the code is about doing what is right in spite of difficulties or the opinions of, or pressures from, others. It's not just macho, it's morality, the personal morality of the character, the difference between right and wrong. If it was just macho, the character would do what looked best to others or what made him attractive or popular. Then he'd brag about it.

It's a lot like being considerate of other people, not because you have to but because it's the right thing to do.

Thanks for the review, it makes me want to reread this one.

Joe Barone said...

Actually, I liked the book very much too. Thanks for your comment.

Maribeth said...

This is my first visit but not my last.
I like your style.

Giggles and Guns

Joe Barone said...

Welcome, Maribeth. It is good to have you checking in.