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Mortal Stakes [Mass Market Paperback]

Robert B. Parker
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 1987 Spenser
Everybody loves a winner, and the Rabbs are major league. Marty is the Red Sox star pitcher, Linda the loving wife. She loves everyone except the blackmailer out to wreck her life.

Is Marty throwing fast balls or throwing games? It doesn't take long for Spenser to link Marty's performance with Linda's past...or to find himself trapped between a crazed racketeer and an enforcer toting an M-16.

America's favorite pastime has suddenly become a very dangerous sport, and one wrong move means strike three, with Spenser out for good!

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Mortal Stakes + God Save the Child + The Godwulf Manuscript
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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It was summertime, and the leaving was easy for the Red Sox because Marty Rabb was throwing the ball past the New York Yankees in a style to which he'd become accustomed. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Loved the reality/fiction twist of Spenser going undercover as a writer to get into baseball back rooms and detect from inside the game. It appears that for Robert B. Parker, the heart of Boston's commerce and culture is baseball at Fenway Park. That is where this author appears to live. And where Spenser opens gateways for Parker's dreams... and nightmares.

To me, Parker seemed happy to be writing this book within this setting with mirrors reflecting mirrors of plays within plays that Spenser's opening interviews didn't feature suspects/clients offering delicatessen varieties of The Limburger Reek. The beauty of the baseball scene was captured perfectly, from the spectators in the stands, to the clean locker room banter, to the management organizational structure and press picture, to the sharks feeding among the sacred roots of the game. Even though I'm not into baseball, by page 4 Parker had me hooked into his ambiance. I felt the realism in the levels of the game, felt Spenser's joy (at the outset) to be doing this case.

It seemed to me as if, by this third Spenser novel, copyright 1975, Parker was feeling his oats as an author, had established his commercial appeal, and was really stepping out to write what and how he'd always wanted: Baseball, within the classic framework of detective fiction.

Loved the joked-up titles for his fictional book, off-colored ditties which lead to an appropriate one. I was curious what Spenser would come up with, contrasted to his hokey (as he meant them to be) jokes, and he dropped the head-liner at the precise time and place for effect.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great character development for Spenser July 11 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Parker knocks one out of the park! Aug. 23 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the second Spenser book I've read, and it's definitely a home run.
Spenser's hired to find out if the Boston Red Sox' leading pitcher is on the take or not, gets involved with a few nice folks and quite a few who aren't as nice. The characters and their interplay with Spenser help make this a superior P. I. story. The pitcher and his wife, the madame of a New York bordello, a flashy pimp, a flamboyant sports announcer and his bubblegum chewing martial arts expert assistant, an on-the-edge mob boss and his hit man, a knowing and not altogether unsympathetic cop, Brenda from the first novel, and Susan from the second each provide good scenes moving the story along.
What lifts this novel above the average Spenser novel and the basic tough detective genre is Spenser's personal code, the set of principles that he lives by, and the struggle he faces when the only way to bring about a satisfactory resolution to the situation is to violate one of those principles.
This is, on one hand, a fast, enjoyable read and also, on the other hand, a satisfying look at what makes the main character tick.
Very highly recommended to casual P. I. readers as well as serious ones.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mandatory reading for Spenser fans Feb. 7 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This early Spenser is essential if one is to understand the series hero. The value system that makes him different from those he pursues, and often even the cops, is spelled out here in both word and deed. It also helps us understand what draws him to and keeps him with the sometimes-exasperating Susan Silverman.
Even if you aren't a big fan of the series and are just looking for a read to get through a winter's day, this is a good choice. The mystery is a good one, with things of real value at stake (pardon the pun). Spenser takes us along every step of the way as he gets to the bottom of it, so the reader never feels cheated by the detective having information that we don't. (I must admit that perhaps the snow made me enjoy this book more than I ordinarily might have. Reading about Spenser watching baseball, eating hotdogs and peanuts and drinking beer in a great old ballpark is enough to make this girl downright misty-eyed as I dream of summers spent in my beloved Wrigley Field.)
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