Widow's Walk Paperback – Mar 4 2003
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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.
From Publishers Weekly
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.
Top Customer Reviews
The wife (Mary Smith) of a very wealthy man (Nathan Smith) is accused of killing him. She is a dolt, nearly unable to answer even the simplest of questions. Her alibi is that she was downstairs watching television while he was in his bedroom getting shot. Rita Fiore hires Spenser to look into the case, which allows for the initial dialog between Rita and Spenser. As Spenser starts looking into the case, strange things happen, in that people start being killed. Yet, the only pattern to the killings is that they are people who talk to Spenser and may have given him information.
The plot becomes very convoluted, in that Nathan Smith had a very checkered past of involvement with young boys and Mary Smith continued to have affairs after the marriage. Not just affairs, but involvement with very unsightly men. As the story unfolded, I often wondered if Mary is in truth as stupid as she portrays herself. There is a climactic ending where Spenser has a shootout with the evil man, whose identity is not revealed until he is lying dead in a puddle of mud.
This is one of the very best Spenser novels, the dialog remains crisp throughout and there is the continuous hint of possible action between Spenser and Rita Fiore. There are many convolutions to the plot that keep you confused and that is one of the most enjoyable aspects of a mystery novel.
This is vintage Spenser, with all of the sharp dialogue and clear, beautifully simple descriptive passages we've come to expect from Mr. Parker and his detective hero. It all makes for another fine read.
Pay no attention to carping critics. If they didn't criticize, who would think they were important? Buy the novel - and enjoy yourself once again in Spenser's Boston.
What seems like an open and shut case is only saved by Spencer, and this is mostly because of sheer luck on his part. Mostly stumbling in the dark, Spenser knows he's getting close to something once he realizes he's being watched, and people start dying. A lot of them.
This is a basic Spencer story, with completely hilarious interactions between our hero and the motley crew of seemingly unrelated people who all end up tied to one crime and two main criminals, but not necessarily the ones you think. And there is plenty time with Hawk, which made for the funniest part of this book. It's not the best novel in the long series, but it is a fun book.
You can read plot summaries in other reviews, so for my part I'll let you in on another weakness of the novel: too much dialogue. Maybe it's just me, but Mr. Parker's description is getting extremely thin, and his obsession with detailing the clothing of characters is tiresome. If you're looking for a good Spenser read, try one of the following: "Looking for Rachel Wallace," "A Catskill Eagle," or "Small Vices." These three are excellent.
I will still arrive at the bookstore early next March, but I can only hope that his next installment will be better.