Hush Money Mass Market Paperback – Apr 1 2000
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Twenty-five years and 26 books into the Spenser series, Hush Money dishes up another solid installment that is sure to fulfill the cravings of Parker fans new and old. This time Spenser and his buddy Hawk are helping a couple of troubled friends (i.e., they're working without a fee). The first case involves the denial of tenure for Professor Robinson Nevins. While tenure meetings are always closed-door affairs, Nevins assumes that the recent suicide of graduate student Prentice Lamont (who some claim was having an affair with Nevins) ruined his chances for a coveted permanent position. Spenser and Hawk cut a brawl-strewn path through the members of the tenure committee on their way to the surprising truth of the Nevins case. The other investigation pits Spenser against the unknown stalker of K.C. Roth. Spenser's girlfriend, Susan, has known K.C. for a while, and while the PI finds Ms. Roth a bit melodramatic, he's always eager to help a damsel in distress. The only problem is that after he's apparently resolved the case, K.C. begins a little stalking of her own--of Spenser.
The book is driven by the controversies surrounding political correctness that Parker always loves to confront, and it's fun to watch Spenser struggle (a little) to resist K.C.'s advances. It's also a (slightly disturbed) pleasure to see Spenser and Hawk address some academic hypocrisy with their own special brand of reasoning. Not a mystery for the cozy-loving palette, Hush Money's literate, tough-guy dialogue shows why Parker is the rightful heir to the throne of Chandler. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Despite his quarter century on Boston's mean streets (he debuted in The Godwulf Manuscript in 1974), Parker's retrograde yet hip PI Spenser can still punch, sleuth and wisecrack with the best of them. This time out, Spenser looks into the case of Robinson Nevins, a conservative African-American professor denied tenure, perhaps for his alleged affair with a male student, Prentice Lamont, who has committed suicide. Spenser's hard-eyed stroll through the cloistered world of academia brings him into contact with Amir Abdullah, a black professor who is theatrically militant about African-American issues despite a long list of sexual conquests that includes the leader of a white supremacist organization. Sexual conquest is also on the mind of K.C. Roth, a pretty woman beset by insecurity and prey to a stalker. When Spenser and his sidekick, Hawk, persuade her sinister admirer to desist, K.C.'s fragile emotions lead her to fall hard for Spenser, and the stalked becomes the stalker. Naturally, Spenser's longtime lover, Susan, is less than amused. Readers who find the Spenser chronicles cute or contrived probably won't change their minds with this entry. Beyond dispute, however, is Parker's reliably gossamer narrative touch and, in this particular instance, his skilled brewing of suspense within the academic setting. Fans will also enjoy unexpected revelations about Hawk's background, Spenser's serving of justice with a vengeance and, as usual, prose that's as clean as a sea breeze.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
We do learn of an incident in Hawk's background along with a little more information as we meet his mentor and the mentor's son.
Spenser actually is working two cases here, both pro bono, one for Hawk and the other for Susan. There's irony here. In a previous book, Spenser tried to help her ex-husband, and now for one of her friends. Both times, Susan finds herself betrayed by those she thought she knew.
By the way, I notice more and more criticism lately of Susan Silverman's presence in the books. But she is an essential character. Spenser has a code of ethics and there are times that he feels he has to violate that code in order to do the right thing. This causes enough turmoil that, let's face it, the guy needs a shrink, but is very unlikely to seek one out. His falling in love with one neatly solves the problem. Hence, Susan.
So the story has some failings, but basically should give you four or five enjoyable hours while you read it.
Boston as the locale, Hawk as the sidekick, Susan as the confidante and lover -- these recur in title after title. But Parker has, on the whole, not succumbed to repetition: his characters have difficulties, grow, interact. Still, no one would claim that his grip on character is that of Chandler nor his insight into psychology is that of Ross MacDonald. Nor are his plots as intricate as many mysteries, but then hard-boiled detectives always -- Spenser is no exception -- subscribe to the dictum (Saul Bellow's line in another context, in HENDERSON THE RAIN KING) that "truth comes in blows."
But HUSH MONEY reinforces what has been a growing realization on the part of Parker's readers: that he has become a master of repartee, or dialogue that is direct, crisp, witty. The joy of a Parker novel has become, in the past eight or nine years, the joy of encountering language that zips and crackles, as crisp and astringent as biting into a stick of cold celery. He is not unlike -- and this will be a strange comparison -- a Jane Austen for our age: his characters speak the lines we ourselves would like to speak, if only we were quick-minded enough and had a deep fund of cool and humor. We can be happy encountering great dialogue, and today only Elmore Leonard writes dialogue that is as much fun as Parker's.
So like his other recent work, this novel is a joy to read.Read more ›
"Hush Money" is a slightly better than average Spenser story. The high points of this novel are when Hawk finally reveals some details about his life before meeting Spenser and when Susan decks someone (she also warns them they will "be sleeping with the fishes").Read more ›
Most obviously, this may well be the first book in which Parker describes Spenser on two cases simultaneously. This has the advantage of keeping the action fresh; unlike the pig on the cover, the plot never gets stuck in the mud. It's a nice feature.
But the other two which comes to mind is the number of books Parker has been writing each year. I feel this results in a lack of polish in his late work. His work would be improved by more focus on each book -- one per year is enough for most authors of quality work, and I think Parker should take that as a model.
Hush Money is a decent read. Again, Spenser resists intimidation by the heavies. Again, Spenser resists temptation from a highly attractive woman. Again, Spenser and Hawk flex their muscle. Again, Spenser confronts controversial social issues. The usual.
But the usual isn't bad. Parker's writing, his description and dialogue, are always enjoyable even if the stories aren't as fresh as they once were. If you're new to Parker, I recommend going back to the early works and starting the series in sequence. If you get this far, you're obviously a fan, have a lot invested in the characters, and you'll like Hush Money. But if you're a general fan of detective fiction, you might be disappointed by jumping right to his late work. It's more about character, more about social issues, and less about detection, mystery, or suspense.
Most recent customer reviews
A bit far out but if you need to waste time this is a winner.Published on Sept. 16 2001 by Eddie Spinnler
Hush Money was my first Parker read. It won't be my last. His name has been familiar for years, but until recently his books hadn't floated atop my reading pile. Read morePublished on Nov. 30 2000 by Christopher B. Jonnes
I've read a lot of the Spenser books, and I've always enjoyed them, but this latest effort was below par. Read morePublished on Nov. 7 2000 by Dr. Christopher Coleman
A Spenser novel. Not much else to say. Parker can, as far as i'm concerned, write about Spenser for as long as he writes. Read morePublished on Oct. 10 2000 by Elsie Wilson
Spenser hits his 25th anniversary with this one! Hawk gets him a case looking into a tenure denial, while Susan wants him to help with a stalking. As usual, nothing is simple. Read morePublished on Oct. 3 2000 by Lisa Shea
It's obvious that Robert B. Parker still enjoys idolizing himself as private-eye Spenser. The books are still witty, the characters still engaging and, since the flabby... Read morePublished on Aug. 11 2000 by Patrick Burnett
I feel obliged to give Parker a 5 on this book because I enjoyed it so much. While it may not be the greatest mystery, I thought it was one of his best. Read morePublished on July 31 2000
In this one, Spenser undergoes a thorough study of his homoerotic relationship with Hawk, while girlfriend Susan tries to resolve her electra complex. Read morePublished on July 27 2000 by Wilson Sargeson