Monday, August 16, 2010
TAMING A SEA-HORSE by Robert B. Parker
Taming A Sea-Horse is the story of Spenser's foray into the world of mob-run prostitution.
April Kyle, whom Spenser had rescued in Ceremony, has been lured into a particularly dangerous kind of prostitution. So Spenser gets on his white horse to come to the rescue.
The problem is, April doesn't want to be rescued. Spenser's intervention leads to the murder of another prostitute. It leads to the murder of April's pimp. And, it hastens a horrible worsening of April's situation.
The title, Taming A Sea-Horse, refers to a line in Robert Browning's dramatic monologue, "My Last Duchess." In that poem, an old man brags about his possessions, pointing out a sculpture showing Neptune riding a sea horse.
In other words, April and the other prostitutes are objects to be owned, tamed, and, sometimes, displayed.
For whatever reasons, these women have become prostitutes. (Of course, knowing these books, you know that Susan and Spenser speculate about the reasons.)
Again, Spenser is as always. He does not set out to right every wrong. He only wants to solve the problem at hand.
In this case, that problem is someone in whom he has an emotional investment.
And in dealing with the problem, Spenser has to leave other, just-as-serious (some might say more-serious), problems in place.
This book takes you through the world of mob-run prostitution. It tells much about how prostitution rings are organized. It describes the levels on which individual prostitutes work. And it shows the way many prostitutes drift to the bottom and die.
There is one thing I've come to like about reading the Spenser books as my wife and I are reading them now, from first to last. When we meet continuing characters such as April and April's previous madam, Patricia Utley, we remember who they are. We know their backstories from other books. And we almost certainly know we will meet them again in stories yet to come.
This book, like the others, is an easy read. There are few books I can read in a day. I'm a slow reader. But I did read this one that quickly.
Spenser continues to be a "good read" for me. I enjoy the books, some more than others, and I look forward to working my way through the whole series.