shannon_a: (Default)
The end of the last Spenser novel, not really a spoiler )

That's the end Robert Parker's last Spenser novel: a baptism and a trip to the Undying Lands, if you believe life is mostly metaphor, anyway.

Not his best work, as the theme of rehabilitating someone has been done before in the Spenser novels, most notably with Paul in Early Autumn, which was one of his best.

I get the impression that Parker was working on the 41st(?) Spenser novel when he died. If so, we'll probably see that work, as a new author has already been picked to write the Spenser novels (and the Stone novels as well).

Life goes on for the rest of us. I'm glad Parker's Joan decided to keep his heroes alive.
shannon_a: (Default)
This is what I now presume will be the penultimate Spenser novel by the late Mr. Parker.

Overall, I thought it was quite a good story. A lot of recent Spensers have been more action-adventure than mystery, but this returns to the classic formula. We have an intertwined theft and murder that spin out into a wide network of people. It was nicely done.

I was also struck by the ending. The novel pretty much ends on an exclamation of unbounded love. I've more than once felt that Parker seemed to have a love in his life that could move mountains--and an appreciation of the same.

In the end, that's about all we could expect or demand from this world.
shannon_a: (Default)
So I've started in on Parker's short series of westerns with the first, Appaloosa. I'm sort of surprised how similar in style it is to the Spenser books. It's very dialogue-heavy, and I expected something more action heavy for the western genre. I think the book suffered a bit as a result.

(As a result of my expectations or Parker's style? I dunno.)

It is a pretty good character study of the two (or three) main characters, even if we've seen reflections of them before. Hitch and Cole aren't that different from the stoic yet very competent Spenser and Stone, while Cole's girl could well be the ancestor of Stone's odious, power-grabbing ex-wife, Jenn.

I enjoyed the book alright, if not as much as the Stone and Spenser novels, and I'll surely read the other two (three when the last one is out too). I must say, I am a bit surprised by the fact that there are more books, however, as the ending is a pretty definitive character change for both Hitch and his relationship with Cole.

However, based on the timing, I'd bet the fact that a movie got made out of Appaloosa is what made it successful enough to sequel-ize.
shannon_a: (Default)
Robert B. Parker died about a month before the publication of what will presumably be his final Jesse Stone novel, Split Image. Readers immediately bemoaned the fact that they'd never get to know the final fate of Jesse and of Sunny Randall, not understanding that in publishing-world there are inevitably a few books in the pipeline--including this one, which was then already running off printing presses, here in the US.

The mystery is of Split Image is OK. The characters are great. Pretty much standard for both.

I was also really pleased to see that despite the fact that the book is labeled "A Jesse Stone Novel", it's really "A Jesse Stone & Sunny Randall Novel". They each have their own mystery to solve, and though Stone's gets a bit more attention, Randall's is more emotionally true.

Even better, Stone & Randall make some pretty definitive decisions on their on-again, off-again relationship.

I'm sad that Parker isn't writing any more, that this is probably the final story of Stone and of Randall. But, I'm very pleased with its ending, which is Jesse saying, "What an auspicious start." I don't think you could have had a better ending for Parker's other detective.

And word is that there are two more Spenser novels in the pipeline, plus one more western. I haven't read any of Parker's westerns yet, but I expect I'll start soon, as they now lie among the scant dozen novels by Parker (most of them standalones) that I have not read.
shannon_a: (Default)
Quickly upon the heels of Chasing the Bear, I got the brand-new Spenser book, The Professional (from the library, as ever).

In short: not one of my favorites.

Oh, sure it had the great Parker dialogue and the great characters of Spenser, Hawk, and Susan, which are always are a joy to read. I read it in just a few days. But, it was even more pointless and meandering than most Spenser books.

In The Professional, Spenser gets a job to stop a guy from blackmailing some women that the guy had had affairs with. Spenser can't do the job, because the guy doesn't give in, but Spenser stays obsessed with the psychology of the guy and his victims and continues watching over them long after the case ends ... and eventually some other things start to happen, but in them Spenser is more of a witness than an active participant.

Over the years Parker has gotten more and more interested in psychology and what makes people tick. I mentioned that the ongoing psychological discussions of Chasing the Bear was its main weakness. Similarly here Parker tried to put out a whole book centered around some psychological sketches, and it became obvious that it was less a mystery and more a ... whatever this is that Parker is writing.

Hopefully the next Spenser role will have him taking a more active role, and maybe actually doing something he's getting paid for, rather than acting as a detective dilettante.
shannon_a: (Default)
This was advertised as a "Young Spenser" book, and I had pretty low expectations. Would it have a Lil' Hawk I wondered? A Susie-Cutie?

It's actually a very authentic-feeling look at Spenser's childhood, centering around some of the same issues of morality as the typical Spenser book. The whole is laid out as a series of vignettes and short stories about Spenser's youth, from 10-18 or so, interwoven with a continuing conversation of Spenser and Susan in the modern day.

Though the modern-day conversation was interesting at times, I felt like it ran out of useful stuff to say about halfway in, and in any case, it interrupted the backstory narratives too much. Conversely, I found the backstory narratives very compelling, both in the spirit of Parker's regular narrative and (at least sometimes) as boy's adventure story.

I'd definitely read others in this series, though I'd like to see more of the past and less of the present. However, I'm not convinced that this book is a very good YA. There are just too many adult themes and too many philosophical discussions, particularly in the modern-day frame.

In honor of banned book week, I expect to give Farenheit 451 a read next. Go read something that close-minded jerks and bobble-headed parents in America try to outlaw!
shannon_a: (Default)
I've finished reading Night and Day, the 8th Jesse Stone novel by Robert B. Parker. I'd been expecting a Sunny Randall novel this year, since he hasn't added to the Randall series since 2007, but I suppose it's no surprise that he's working harder on Jesse Stone when the series of TV movies seems to be successful.

(I should really watch them some time.)

What struck me particularly about this book is that it's almost all dialogue. I was talking to Luke at Endgame about it last night, and he mentioned that all of Parker's later books tend to be so. I hadn't noticed, but it surely explains why they read so fast.

I liked this one. I particularly liked the fact that it was about some more minor crimes, not yet another murder in Paradise, and the fact that it connects heavily with Stone's own character plots (and finally, perhaps, brings them to resolution).

The final chapter made me smile, and I hope to see more Jesse Stone books down the road.

Unfortunately, Parker's next book appears to be a Young Spenser novel.

shannon_a: (Default)
I just finished up Rough Weather which is the brand newest Robert B. Parker Spenser book.

These are always a pleasant surprise, as I show up at gaming some Saturday, and I see the newest book sitting on the table, and I ask if I can borrow it. They're also nice quick reads.

Granted, Parker's fallen deep into a pattern in his writing. Spenser checks out the ladies. Hawk falls out of dialect when he says something important. Susan fails to cook, then Spenser cooks something amazing. Hawk intimidates a thug, then impresses a lady. Spenser's police friends bend the law for him. But, Parker is aware enough of his patterns that he sometimes varies them up by purposefully going against form and offering a surprising contrast.

As well, his writing is sharp and his plots remain innovative (usually). This one had a nice twist, even if I did figure out pretty much everything that was going on half-way through.

In using this journal to increasingly keep track of all my mystery reading, I should note the last books I read in all of Parker's series: that's Rough Weather in the Spenser series, Stranger in Paradise in the Jesse Stone series, and Spare Change in the Sunny Randall series. Looks like a Sunny series must be up next; ah well.

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