Robert B. Parker’s Spenser Novels

Since he died in January of this year, I’ve been reading all of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels. I had read about half of them oven the past few years, but I started from the beginning, and have been buying all the ones I hadn’t gotten to. If you’re not familiar with this mystery series, it features Spenser (no first name), a tough private eye in Boston, along with his co-characters, ranging from his heartthrob, Susan Silverman, a shrink, to Hawk, the tall, tough, black enforcer who helps him out.

Parker was a wizard of wit, providing some of the finest dialog in contemporary mystery fiction, and some of the oddest situations. His books aren’t wacky like Carl Hiaasen’s, but they feature a combination of typical and atypical cases where Spenser investigates, sometimes even when he has been fired by his clients. He’s a chivalric type, a lug of a guy, but with honor. And many of the other characters in the stories have that same kind of old-fashioned honor that make these books different from the typical serial-killer mysteries and police procedurals.

Parker was a master wordsmith, and his books have exactly as many words as they need, but no more. They’re not very long – I can read one in a longish evening – but they are a great pleasure to read.

So if you want to discover one of the classic tough-guy mystery series, which is witty and creative, check out some of the Spenser novels.