April 20, 2003

Back Story

Back Story
Robert B. Parker

"We were in a new restaurant called Spire. Susan was barely drinking a Cosmopolitan."

This pretty much sums up Parker's latest Spenser novel. It's fun. It's written with care, wit, and humor. Not many writers, after all, can make us grin with a single pedestrian adverb inserted into a simple declarative sentence,

And there's the usual Robert Parker baggage. Using brand names and plugging your favorite haunts seemed an edgy and economical in the '80s, but now it feels lazy. Every year, the dialog gets more spare and the characters more archetypical. At point point, Hawk actually mentions this to Susan and Spenser: "'You folks barely talk,' he said, smoothing Pearl's ears. 'One of you say something cryptic, the other one say, 'I know.' Pretty soon you be speaking in clicks.'"

Faults and all, I kept grinning throughout. It's good to visit with Spenser, Hawk, Susan, and Paul. They're family, and though we know their limitations, it's nice to have them around.