Spenser's third book is his first foray into the "someone's fixing the game" story. He's put on the case by Healey (from "God Save") and is looking into the Red Sox and trying to figure out if someone's fixing the game. He drinks Miller (argh) and while he talks about "Susan Silverman" he's also seeing "Brenda Loring" (always the full name). Susan's given him a birthday and xmas present so it's been a little while since the last book.
Spenser goes out to Illinois and New York on some tracking, but the rest of the story centers around Boston. He confronts a loan shark and his watchdog, asks Lt. Quirk for help. He tries to help out the trapped instead of doing what he was hired to do, which is fun, to watch his moral code develop and strengthen.
Very strangely, though, Spenser sets up two people to be killed. Remember, Spenser is the guy who a few years later later won't shoot a truly bad guy who is a mortal threat to him - just because the guy is unarmed and on the floor. For him to be deliberately setting up the death of two guys is a little on the edge of his "morality scale". He's like a colt growing into a horse - he's at that slightly awkward stage, but you can see the huge potential just around the corner.
My thoughts - I like the "inside the action" stories, where you learn about something in detail. It's neat hearing about how baseball works at Fenway, and the locations are all right around Boston.
However, it's bizarre that book 2 was so solidly "Susan Silverman" while this one shows Brenda and only mentions Susan in bits until the end. Spenser still drinks heavily as he almost "doubts what he's doing" - he doesn't have the self confidence of later books. He's unsure about confronting the loan shark. He drinks Miller!! He sets up the bad guy so he can kill him. Hmmmmmmm.