Saturday, October 23, 2010
The good news is, Robert B. Parker's next to the last Spenser novel, Painted Ladies, is a much better read than what I previously thought was the last Spenser, The Professional. In a scene reminiscent of the Raymond Chandler novel, Farewell My Lovely, a stuffy college professor hires Spenser to come along as protection for the ransom delivery for a valuable painting.
A wheel comes off and the professor is blown to bits by a rigged package. There doesn't seem to be any way Spenser could have prevented this from occurring, but being Spenser he feels that he's failed, and after returning his fee to the college, he sets out sans client to find out who killed the professor. This being a Spenser novel, things quickly turn complicated and Spenser is almost killed in his office by a couple of hired guns.
As I said, this one is better than the previous book. There's still too much Susan and no Hawk, but the plotting is better and Spenser spends more time actually being a detective. As usual, Parker's dialog sparkles. There are call backs to earlier books as Spenser recalls a case in London (The Judas Goat) and visits with series regulars like Rita Fiore. It's a fun book.
So anyway, that's the good news about the next to the last Spenser book. What's the bad news? It's the next to the last Spenser book.