Fiction – November 2019

This was the month I went back to the Spenser series with a vengeance.

First of a projected trilogy, this fantasy novel was slow to take off, but eventually got its act together. It may have suffered from needing to set so many base lines for future plots as it failed to grab me the way Abercrombie’s other work has. Still well worth reading, and I’ll be looking out for the next one.

Number 16 in the series. Our man – or ‘educated thug’ – Spenser is tasked with looking into allegations of corruption in a college basketball team. Is the star player being paid off? Inevitably Spenser comes up against those who do not want him to find out what is going on. Through it all, Spenser delivers his trademark smart alec dialog with no concession to political correctness. Our hero gets to show off just how good he is in this better quality encounter.

If this type of stuff is of interest, don’t start midway. A chunk of the value in reading the books is seeing how the character and his accomplices and foes develop. Start here.

Number 17. Spenser is recruited to protect Jill Joyce, a TV star who is beautiful, nasty, and oversexed, from threats and a stalker. Not the easiest of missions, Spenser has to endure the TV studio executives as well as the prima donna. But when the action heats up, Spenser is ready for action. One of the better stories.

Number 18. Having saved a young man from his warring parents, several years on the grown man asks Spenser for help in tracking down his mother who has just disappeared. It’s a painful journey for Spenser and the young man. It’s a good read.

Number 19. This time it’s Spenser who is recruited by his friend and fellow thug Hawk. Their mission: to try and clean up a residential block that’s being terrorized by a gang. This one was a good read up until the end which I found unconvincing. Still a good read though.

Number 20. The case of a model wife and mother bludgeoned to death near her home seems to have defeated the police. The husband recruits Spenser and his intrusive investigation soon starts to get results, though not what was intended. One of the better quality stories.

Number 21. Spenser gets involved with a theater company at the request of his girlfriend, Susan. The case of a potential stalker becomes something much more dangerous and Spenser recruits help to sort out the tangled situation. Not bad, but not the best Spenser tale.

Collection of crime short stories based in Amsterdam. Generally the quality is good, and each brings a different taste to the table. Apparently there’s an extensive series. Glasgow noir? Tel Aviv noir?

Now up to number four in my Bosch reread, this one is the best so far. Harry is off work after assaulting a senior officer and uses the time to investigate the cold case of his mother’s murder. This is a well executed novel with a tortured central character dragging you along to the finale. Terrific writing, well paced, and hard to put down.

As an aside, I would note that the Connelly books are worth rereading. I would not say the same of the Robert B Parker books featuring Spenser. The latter are lighter material; great entertainment, but not enduring in their quality.