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5.0 out of 5 stars Private Eye Soliloquy Goes to International Rap. King Kong is Blond. Straw-Topped Gorilla Spews Blood of Carnage.,
This review is from: The Judas Goat (Mass Market Paperback)In THE JUDAS GOAT Spenser made the TRANSITION from lone-and-lonely Private Eye to team player and dialogue master. Since Robert B. Parker is admittedly a guy who thrives on baseball, and since Hawk is the perfect rap partner to call forth Spenser's soul, the transition was obvious yet seamless. To me this shift almost felt as if it were written in the stars, maybe even on The Players' cards.
Yep, here it is, the beginning of Parker's famous rap/jazz dialogue, with Spenser and Hawk tossing brand-new (talking) "baseballs" back-and-forth, carrying them through to home plate conclusions. The pair of Black-and-White-Knights culminated this particular plot conversation at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, doing an award-winning street-scuffle with a whale-of-a-man named Zachary. You'll wanna see that event. You won't be able to read it because the words become vision. You'll see it.
To me, the point of departure was clear, the point at which the dialogue rhythm picked up its signature beat. The grand overture occurred halfway into this plot. I've marked the page. The movement seemed to emerge from Hawk's ebony hues and blues, and Spenser's playful counterpoint. This # 5 book in the Spenser sequence is the first one in which Hawk and Spenser worked together in a true duet, which allowed Spenser to contrast himself to Hawk, expanding the awareness of their common bonds, and filling in some of the dots of the drawn lines separating each man's code.
Hawk does have a code, with basically one main rule, and it's expressed succinctly (of course) by him in this novel. The key in that rule is "word." But, Hawk's words expressing it can't be beat. You'll want to read (and reread) them, from him, within this plot.
The first half of this book was so different from the last half I was surprised the binding didn't split. As the story took flight with Spenser preparing to go to London accompanied by enough fire power to do the job, as he was preparing to understand and follow the rules for passing those accouterments through airport security, I was carried along nicely, with heightened awareness of the contrast between then and now. Ironically, this plot, taking place in 1976 (probably conceived and composed a year or so prior to the 1978 copyright), dealt with terrorism and international travel, giving an uncanny prelude to today's necessity of intensified caution.
Parker gave just enough daily detail of Spenser's travel routines, airport machinations, plane ride, and settling into London. Spenser didn't have an easy time getting a lead onto the trail on the 9 amateur terrorists who blew up his wheel-chair bound client and family, but the super sleuth spent the delay prior to "connect" as a frustrated but true tourist. I was impressed by the effective simplicity of the technique Spenser used to accomplish his link, and how he played it out.
The Judas Goat theme was well executed, yet that theme and a few others Parker touched on (including the James Bond mystique) each applied tangy twists on well-seated stereotypes. As terrorists freely and guiltlessly blew up innocent people, Parker set gentle, prose-tweaking-bombs under stereotypes, including some of the cultural icons we've come to relish and revere. Yet, Parker didn't diminish or desecrate those icons; he toyed with them with such subtle humor it sometimes slid right by me (except in the case of the Kidney Pie, which he did not treat with kid gloves).
In this plot Parker developed yet another intriguing female psychological type, Katherine Caldwell (who had at least 4 other alias's), into an interesting character with both warm and cold blood, as he slithered around another stereotype. I understand why Parker did what he did for this woman, in the conclusion of the plot. It was necessary for me to carefully reread the words in his explanation, about this soul-broken James Bond lady (and her comparison to Hawk), to get to the core of Spenser's reasoning. I don't know how to explain this without giving away too much. I also enjoyed the way Spenser skirted around Kathie's ambiguous sexuality, which provided yet another twist in the established P.I. mystique.
Given the abundance of licorice twists in this plot, I wondered if Parker weren't a master at breaking those Rubitz Cube games. I wouldn't be surprised to discover he has designed a few. On the other hand, Robert B. translates their essence so exquisitely into fiction, maybe he wouldn't have energy left to engineer physical puzzle cubes.
Okay. NOW we come to the Olympic scuffle scene in the plot culmination, in which Spenser and Hawk confronted the head terrorist and his side-kick (Zachary). The fight scene with Zachary, Spenser, and Hawk was awesome, even for a reader like me who generally seeks the types of mysteries which don't engage in down-home-brutal graphics.
As I began reading along into that scene I wondered how Parker would deal with that essential physical battle, and was thankful that I'd read enough of his novels to know he doesn't overdo (or under do) the detail, and that Spenser fights with enough finesse that his prose doesn't require ten pages of gore, of fists, foot kicks, and bat tricks transforming humans into immobilized pulp. Just as I had that smug thought, however, the scene descended into basic pulp.
Somehow, I admired that grit and gore scene?
Maybe it was the fact that Spenser and Hawk were described from a never-lost mental-perspective of a potent and clear intent to come through the gauntlet intact, with the villain (who was one of the best characterizations of a true bad brut I've read) exactly where he had earned himself to be.
Whatever it was which caused me to read those scenes with appreciation for the gut-level-fighting craft, without flinching, without closing the book and tossing it into the coal stove; whatever it was, I was impressed enough to attempt to describe it as bait, then hand over the book to my husband to read through the fight, from the part where Zachary arrived and Spenser spotted him. Of course I took covert glances at my husband's face as he read (at the breakfast table). It was interesting to me that in several passages he grinned or laughed out loud. That response allowed me to realize that Parker's humor was part of what kept the fight detail from overwhelming my squeamishness and losing me, even as I could easily see why grittier souls could be pleasantly entertained by the humorless type of physically painful intensity which I avoid.
Parker's various skills as an author are so subtly intricate, I often miss the literary finesse until I begin writing a review, working to zero-in on exactly what caused my ability to be in the story at a solid level of anticipatory engrossment.
I reread the fight scene after Tom (my husband) had read it. I was looking for what parts made him laugh, and easily found them.
You done good, Parker. Again.
A straw gorilla, indeed. No, he was more of a cross between the bad side of Frankenstein, and The Hulk, with a blond crew cut.
Author of several Amazon Shorts and KINDLE books, including MYRTLE'S ULTIMATE MYSTERY, THE ROSE AND THE PYRAMID, and MOLASSES MOON
4.0 out of 5 stars The Spenser Reviews: This Won't Betray Your Time,
This review is from: The Judas Goat (Mass Market Paperback)In The Judas Goat, Spenser takes a vacation from his usual Bostonian suspects and takes on a job in Europe hunting down terrorists who killed his latest client's family.
While certainly not reaching the complexity of the "great Spenser period" soon to come, the story advances some of the key elements that would later gel (and, ultimately ossify in some ways) in some ways. Although her role is peripheral here, Susan Silverman is a lot more likeable here than in previous books. And here Hawk finally emerges as his own character, finally becoming Spenser's true doppleganger.
The only flaws are a rather plastic set of villains, including an unfortunately portrayal of a seriously demented nymphomaniac terrorist. Clearly, Parker is still struggling with his tendencies to characterize the non-Silverman women as either good time girls or pyschotic whores.
But the action scenes here are among Parker's best, including an astonishing, multi-page set piece involving Spenser's attempt to lure a couple of assassins waiting to kill him.
This probably isn't the first Spenser you should read, but it's among the best of the earlier Spensers.
4.0 out of 5 stars Early Parker, Rough but Enjoyable,
This review is from: The Judas Goat (Mass Market Paperback)In Robert B. Parker's fifth book about the Boston sleuth Spenser, he sends Spenser through London, Amsterdam and Montreal in search of justice.
In an opening which almost exactly mirrors the start of The Big Sleep, Spenser heads out to rich-suburb Weston to meet with a sad family man in a wheelchair. In this case, the man's family has been blown up as 'collateral damage' by terrorists in London with unknown aims. The man hires Spenser to bring in the 9 responsible, dead or alive.
Off Spenser goes, telling his beloved Susan, who he was practically married to in the last book, that he might be gone for months or years. "See ya" says she. He puts out one ad and lounges for a full week before someone answers it. Two thugs try to kill him and he takes them out. When another pair try the following week, Spenser decides to trust his life to Hawk, who was just a casual acquaintance in the previous story. Some pretty strange relationship-altering substances must have been taken between these two stories.
On Spenser goes, from Denmark to Amsterdam to Montreal. He barely stops back in the Boston area to keep his benefactor informed and to pop in to see Susan. With an almost implausible twist of fate he tracks down and finds the final head terrorist at the Montreal Olympics and stop an assassination attempt. Oh, and he lets the sex-crazed-nympho female terrorist go, because, of course, she's female. She must not have known any better.
In a very unusual situation, there was a made-for-TV version of this which was FAR far better. The female terrorist is a much better character. The whole environment makes much more sense, and there are EXTRA twists that make the story even more interesting. It's pretty amazing when the movie version turns out much better than the book!
Let me just add the note that I'm a huge Spenser fan, that I did enjoy reading this as a "historical story" and have read it several times. So it's worth having if you enjoy Spenser. It's just clear that this is an early work of Parker's, before he really hit his stride.
5.0 out of 5 stars Okay, I'm hooked!,
This review is from: The Judas Goat (Mass Market Paperback)This is the third Spenser book I've read and I imagine I'm hooked now and will be reading every Spenser book I get hold of.
A lot of readers compare the Spenser books to Dashell Hammett's, Raymond Chandler's and Ross McDonald's books, but I see, in addition, some of John D. McDonald's Travis McGee in the character of Spenser.
Whatever, this book is the best of the three I've read so far...they get progressively better, it seems. I imagine though that I'm close to the point where the stories start evening out. Anyway, this one has Spenser working for a man who suffered the horrible loss of his family and of the proper use of his body in a terrorist attack in England. The job is to find each of the nine terrorists involved and bring them in, dead or alive. The title comes from Spenser's plan to use one member of the group to catch the others and this does come about although in a somewhat unexpected manner.
The story has twists and turns enough to delight any mystery fan, along with the developing characters of Susan and Hawk. Most importantly, it has some food for deeper thought along with the action.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, rip-roaring adventure with Hawk,
This review is from: The Judas Goat (Mass Market Paperback)The first of the books to give Hawk real prominence in the story-line, this book really shines. Post 11 SEP this books also hold a resonance that it hadn't since it came out: Spenser and Hawk battle a group of nasty, deadly and fanatical terrorists bent of death and destruction.
With pithy prose and sparkling dialogue, the story also gives the extreme violence in the book a moral context that raises it above the usual actioner into the realm of literature.
A must read for the Spenser fan.
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert B. Parker (and Spencer & Hawk) at their best!,
This review is from: The Judas Goat (Mass Market Paperback)The Spenser series is one of my favorite detective fiction series, and this is my favorite Spenser novel. You've got to love Spenser. As hard boiled and cynical as he is, there's still the occasional glimpse into the regular guy aspects of his persona.
Spenser travels to London to track down the killers of a rich Boston industrialist's family. They were killed in a terrorist bombing while vacationing in England.
In London, Spenser discovers that this is not exactly the group of amateurs he thought he was dealing with and summons Hawk for help. Spenser and Hawk track down and deal with the group in an odyssey that covers much of Europe and ends up in Montreal during the summer Olympics. The guy's have discovered that the group they are dealing with is just a splinter organization of a much more serious group determined to disrupt the Olympics--and Spenser and Hawk are just as determined to stop them.
Full of energy, violence and the usual Spenser philosophizing, this is the most action packed and absorbing book in the Spenser series.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Spencer books,
This review is from: The Judas Goat (Mass Market Paperback)This book shares equal-first placing with Small Vices as my favourite Spencer books, because Spencer is not the smartest, strongest, all-conquering hero. He makes mistakes and wears the consequences.
The Judas Goat is probably the least predictable of the Spencer books. Hawk and Susan are introduced to a large degree in this book, so they are fresh and unpredictable. Hawk is morally ambiguous and hasn't developed into a boy scout with a ghetto accent. Susan is quite intelligent and hasn't been reduced to alternating speeches of undying love for Spencer and self-righteous whinging about the unfairness of life.
As Australia is currently in the last stages of preparing for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, the book's references to the 1976 Olympics are particularly interesting. Robert Parker wins a gold medal for this effort.
5.0 out of 5 stars The most action packed of the Spenser novels.,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Judas Goat (Mass Market Paperback)This is my favorite Spenser novel. It is action based and shows Spenser and Hawk at their best. This is the earlier Spencer who has little regard for the rules. Hawk has no regard for the rules. Spenser before he was civilized by Susan Silverman.
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The Judas Goat by Robert B. Parker (Mass Market Paperback - Jun 1 1992)
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