Mortal Stakes Mass Market Paperback – May 1 1987
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.)
Most recent customer reviews
This book was another Spenser I enjoyed, but missed the humour of his later works. Also a lot of descriptions of whatever that became tedious.Published 10 months ago by Gregory Smith
I am starting to like these books more and more. It is interesting to see what topic he will use in the plot. Read morePublished on June 27 2004 by Kel
The first two novels in the series are entertaining but this is where we see Parker's potential for the first time. Read morePublished on March 2 2003 by John M Barra
Of the three early Spenser novels I've read recently, I found I liked this one over God Save The Child and The Godwulf Manuscript. Read morePublished on July 12 2001 by R. Byley
Against the backdrop of baseball Spenser finds himself undercover and investigating the Sox's top pitcher. Read morePublished on Nov. 20 2000 by Eric M. Schmidt
It's been a while since I've read this, but it's always been my favorite. Spenser wisecracks, gets tough, and does his usual business. Read morePublished on June 8 2000 by David White