The lesson in Robert B. Parker’s Hundred-Dollar Baby is clear. Don’t ask Spenser for help if you don’t want his help. Spenser is either all in or all out.
With this book, Parker is back on track. The story involves the mob, Hawk, Susan, several lesser characters from previous books, and, in a minor way, Spenser’s cop friends in Boston and New York.
This is the kind of tale Parker tells well.
April Kyle (from 1982’s Ceremony and 1987’s Taming a Sea-Horse) shows up at Spenser’s office to ask for help. She runs a local brothel. Someone is trying to put her out of business. Thugs descend upon her whorehouse and run off her upper-class clientele.
Spenser agrees to provide protection. He and Hawk set up shop at the brothel, and the story goes from there.
The story involves Patricia Utley, the madam who offered April refuge in New York City. It also involves several men who revolve around April in the way planets would revolve around a sun.
Hundred-Dollar Baby completes April Kyle’s story.
In my comments about 1982’s Ceremony, I wrote--
“In a reverse anachronistic way, [this story] reminds me that the staid little blogs I read on the Internet are not what much of cyberspace is all about. Much of cyberspace is filled with pornography and theft.
“And it reminds me that human corruption includes trafficking in human beings. Human corruption includes killing or exploiting people to pander to depravity.
“Spenser's attempts to fight evil are like throwing feathers in the wind. But still he tries. And still he makes a little difference.”
Not this time. In Hundred-Dollar Baby Spenser couldn’t make a difference.