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It's good to see private eye Spenser back in Boston, after his ludicrous imitation of a frontier lawman in Robert B. Parker's Potshot. But he's getting nowhere investigating the gunshot murder of banker Nathan Smith in Widow's Walk. The cops figure Smith's ingenuous but unfaithful young wife, Mary, pulled the trigger. She denies it. Spenser, hired by former prosecutor Rita Fiore to help build Mary Smith the best defense her money can buy, isn't sure either way, and the more time he spends on this case (dense with business and sexual deceptions), the more perplexed he becomes.
Of course, our poetry-spouting hero finally catches a break by linking Smith's demise to a convoluted real-estate scam. The rest of the novel offers plenty of Parker's characteristically witty dialogue, the slayings of several informants that you know from the get-go are toast, and ample opportunities for Spenser and his robustly menacing sidekick, Hawk, to intimidate lesser thugs. Unfortunately, the author isn't as attentive to the needs of other series regulars, including Spenser inamorata Susan Silverman, whose restrained jealousy toward lawyer Fiore ("Rita is sexually rapacious and perfectly amoral about it. I'm merely acknowledging that") and self-flagellation over a gay client's suicide somehow add no new depth to her character.
Parker has a propulsive prose style and can still concoct engrossing stories; his 2001 standalone Western, Gunman's Rhapsody, is a fine example. Widow's Walk doesn't quite meet that standard. Though entertaining, it's an unsatisfying chapter in a series that's become too predictable. --J. Kingston Pierce --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Last year Parker published three strong novels including the excellent Spenser mystery Potshot. So he's entitled to a miss and a pass and gets one with this forgettable Spenser entry. Attorney Rita Fiore, who's worked with the Boston PI before, hires Spenser to find out if her new client, Mary Smith, whom Spenser's cop pal Quirk describes as "dumber than my dick," indeed shot to death her husband, banker and Mayflower descendant Nathan Smith, as the evidence indicates. Spenser's search for the truth takes him into one of the most confusing (for the PI and the reader) cases of his long career; unusual for Parker, pages are needed at book's end to explain who did what and why. Sidekick Hawk pitches in to protect Spenser, and gunsel Vinnie Morris lends a hand, too, as several folks Spenser talks to wind up dead, and as the PI is trailed, then attacked, by thugs headquartered at a crooked land development company with ties to the dead man's bank. Susan, Spenser's beloved, offers some advice as well, but the ritual appearances by Spenser's crew, human and animal (Pearl the Wonder Dog, ancient and slow, waddles in here and there), while earning a nod of gratitude from series fans, do little to advance or deepen the proceedings. The novel stirs to life only fitfully, most notably in the confrontational exchanges between a female lawyer implicated in the crimes and her powerful attorney father; here, Parker taps into truth about familial loyalties. The writing is as clean as fresh ice, and from the opening sentence (" `I think she's probably guilty,' Rita Fiore said to me"), it's clear that readers are in the hands of a vet who knows what he's doing; but what Parker is doing here is, alas, not very interesting. (Mar.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is the typical Spenser novel - same great characters: Spenser, Susan and Hawk + good story line and humor. Parker does smart tough guy dialogue as well as anyone. Read morePublished on Nov. 17 2003 by Rick Mitchell
... but will the widow walk? Spenser gets hired by the widow's defense attorney to help clear her of murder. Read morePublished on May 11 2003 by Paul Skinner
Ho hum. There was a time when Spenser novels were fun and a little bit interesting. That was when Parker cared to find an original plot and to inject just a bit of suspense or... Read morePublished on May 4 2003 by Cat Wrangler
I've never met a Spenser I didn't like and this one's no different. They're always a fun read and I don't try to analyze them too deeply. Read morePublished on April 20 2003 by Donn Nieder
Confusing. I don't like trying to twist my brain around a complicated bank fraud/murder mystery when reading a Spenser novel. Dialougue is still great.Published on April 12 2003 by Jamie
I agree with those that feel that the Spenser series has seen its best days. Maybe Parker realizes that also, and is using the dog Pearl's aging as a plot device hinting that time... Read morePublished on March 20 2003 by Neal Reynolds
Mr Parker's Spenser has been taking a second seat next to the Jessie Stone novels lately, and you can tell. Hush Money was fine, but Hugger Mugger and Potshot were awful. Read morePublished on March 15 2003 by Daniel Byrd