Robert B. Parker, the most marvelous, crime writer, ever

I know it’s a bit late (more than 2 years, in fact), but I’d like to say a few, brief words about one of my favorite authors, Robert B. Parker

I was originally introduced to Mr. Parker’s work by my mother.  An avid reader of crime fiction, my mother and I started exchanging books when I was a teenager.

The first Parker novel she introduced me to was “Playmates”, in 1989.  Yes, I was late for the bandwagon, but when it rolled down my street, I happily jumped on board.  I never got off.

I’ve always had the impression that Mr. Parker’s best known creation, Spenser was his alter-ego.  I’ve never had the honor of meeting the great writer.  But somehow, I’ve felt that I “knew” him through Spenser. 


Well, perhaps not the gun-carrying tough guy, but rather the smart-mouth, wise guy who was always good for a laugh.  I can imagine Parker cooking gourmet dinners for family and friends, while cracking one-liners over the turkey platter.


Is this just my over-active imagination kicking in?  Perhaps!  I have, at times, been accused of having an active fantasy life.


Like many of you here, I was deeply saddened by Mr. Parker's passing in 2010.  I believed (and still do) that we lost one of the most important crime fiction writers of the modern age.  Spenser novels breathed new life into an area of fiction that, in my humble opinion was getting a bit stale.


In my viewpoint, many of today’s crime fiction writers owe their careers to Parker.  The short chapters, composed mainly of crisp, snappy dialogue are all Parker.  Introducing characters of various backgrounds is part of the Parker brand, too.  And, giving women something to do other than being someone’s girlfriend was also part of the Parker heritage.          


Later, when I read somewhere that the Parker estate had chosen Ace Atkins to carry on the Spenser legacy, I didn’t expect much.   I’d never heard of this young author before.  And really, who could replace Robert Parker? 


Well, after reading “Lullaby” (finally), I can safely say I was dead wrong.  That’s not an easy thing for an opinionated guy like me to admit.


Those short chapters and dialogue-filled pages are still there.  Smart-ass Spencer, and his sometimes boring girlfriend Susan, plus all the rest of the crew are alive and kicking.  The legacy has been preserved.  Thank Goodness!


The only thing missing is The Master.  He is still greatly missed.  


Hawk:  “What’s for breakfast?”

Spenser:  “I ate with Susan.”

Hawk:  “Didn’t bring me nothing?”

Spenser:  “I didn’t know you’d be available.”

Hawk:  “Am I not a faithful sidekick?”

Spenser:  “I consider myself a first among equals.”

Hawk:  “No S*&%...I just consider myself first.”


From “Lullaby,” a Spenser novel, by Ace Atkins

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