San Anselmo, CA, United States | Member Since 2006
...then you aint sick. Parker was a true genius. He was so productive that it might take me, a voracious reader, several more years to lap up every book he wrote. Fortunately, Joe Mantegna, one of the best narrators we have the privilege to listen to, is our tour guide here, and, if you are at all like me, you can listen to Joe Mantegna for a long, and I do mean long, time. Parker immediately makes you laugh. His protagonist, Spenser, is a private detective and a guy who is dedicated to working out, particularly at the gym, pounding the punching bag until it really ought to be bleeding. Spenser is 100% in love with Susan Silverman, a psychologist who has gotten her Ph.D. from Hah-vahd, and their love for each other is at the core of almost all of these books. The third main character is Hawk. Don't ask his last name. Hawk is a black man, Spenser's best friend and go-to-guy. Hawk is also a dedicated runner, workout guy and so forth. These two often work as a team in the best of Parker's Spenser novels. With Susan along, true love is fierce, and the love between Hawk and Spenser is just as fierce as the love between Spenser and Susan. These two guys do more than cover each other's backs: Spenser may be up against a brick wall, with a gun or two but also with four or five really ugly bad guys about to shoot him maybe fifty times, when Hawk suddenly appears, and soon the bad guys are reduced to armed rubble.
As to the plot, faithful RBP readers will recognize April Kyle. She was a young girl in Boston's worst neighborhood when Spenser first met her. She was being pimped and abused by a horrible guy, as usual. Spenser managed, with some difficulty, to extract April from her pimp and from that neighborhood, and with a phone call or two, Spenser was able to deliver April to a very high-priced madame who lives on the Upper East Side of NYC. This woman, whose name I will remember just as soon as I finish writing this review, turns April into a classy, gorgeous call girl. It takes a while, but April eventually evolves quite nicely. She is still a whore, but still...
When we encounter her here, April has risen so far that she has reached almost the pinnacle of her profession. She owns an all-woman whorehouse, in a beautiful old house, with, let us say, all the trimmings. Sad to say, some local goons are trying to muscle in on her, and the Large Goon wants to make some extremely easy money, by sending his blockheads to threaten April and scare the customers, so it will then be as easy as pie for the place to become Goon owned whore house number whatever. The Large Goon soon meets Spenser, and then Hawk. Merriment ensues, in a way which only Robert B. Parker has ever been able to create. Joe Mantegna holds our interest completely. His voice is familiar to most of us, I think. His work is flawless. He even handles the "he said, she said," patter, which in my view is just about the only part of RBP's work that becomes hard to listen to. In any case, I become long-winded. Pick this book up. If you already know what to expect, then this book will perfectly meet your already very high expectations. If this is your first Spenser book, then, my friend, you are in for a fantastic treat, one that could last you for years and years. Don't read the "Some hack or other's Robert B. Parker's Spenser series," or whatever it is called. The real thing will have you laughing within two or three minutes. You will then be hooked. Many years later, you will think: I have probably read about a hundred of these. Are there any more?
The above is a quote from Robert B. Parker, a guy who should know. I am now in the process of reading all of Mr. Perry's novels, and I am sad to say that there are only a couple left. The man is remarkable, and again, Michael Kramer is the perfect voice for these amazing books. Mr. Perry is the opposite of formulaic. His creativity and inventiveness seem to know no bounds. This book starts with a killing, and takes almost the whole book to solve it. Through the book we get to know a number of people who are so much flesh and blood that we might actually know them in real life. The villains, however, are so scary that we are glad not to know them. Each time I listen to one of these, I just can't imagine how Mr. Perry is going to top this one, and yet, he does. At times here the suspense is literally unbearable. The plot quickens to the point where I had to put it down to make it last longer, if you understand. I was tempted to just sit and listen to the whole thing, but summoned up enough will power to let it be. Once again Mr. Perry writes with wit that is sometimes understated and sometimes just hilarious. He skewers a rich man who is also a monster, and also his sycophantic wife, and their lives of sheltered unreality. This man hires a killer to stalk the wife of the detective who dies at the beginning, and the contest between the two of them is a war of wills and wits. Emily is another extremely well drawn woman, something which Mr. Perry does easily while other male writers struggle with their inability to write nothing but cardboard women. At first I thought that The Butcher's Boy could not be topped. Now I know that Mr. Perry's talents are truly limitless. Enjoy yourselves. Mr. Perry cannot be beat.
Robert B. Parker was one of this country's most prolific authors, in league with Elmore Leonard. Like Leonard, he simply wanted to entertain us, and he succeeded almost every time out. Likewise, Michael Prichard was an amazingly prolific performer (and may still be). And Joe Mantegna is also an incredibly prolific and likable actor and narrator. Choosing between these two narrators is like trying to choose between the best apple pie and the best peach pie: very hard to do. In Sixkill, Parker again puts Spenser in his usual slot: a very tough guy on the outside with a very tender inside. The dialogue is, as always, witty and brief. You start chuckling right out of the gate. Mantegna seems to have a little more trouble with the repetitive "he said, she said" stuff than Prichard. I seem to notice that less when hearing Prichard. Mantegna, OTOH, is a face many of us know from movies and TV, and his voice is that of a friendly guy who might live next door to you, who happens to be one of the best storytellers anywhere. The plot of Sixkill is really just an excuse for Spenser to act, to play the tough guy when he wants to and the tender lover of Susan Silverman when he needs to. Not that the plot is trifling: it is clever and tugs at your heartstrings, in some ways. Sixkill is a huge Indian who once played great football, but then fell down a terrible slide. Spenser takes him on as a project, and between Spenser and the talk-about-tough-but-silent Hawk, they reclaim Sixkill in a way that is very humane and caring. Parker was a genius. Both Prichard and Mantegna make him sound wonderful. I have only tried to listen to one book narrated by David Dukes, and I hated it. Sit down with Parker and have a great time.
This is Mr. Perry's first book, originally published in 1982. Although it's a little dated (a full gas tank, 12 gallons, for $10!) that is the only flaw I can find. Michael Connelly, one heck of a writer himself, has written an introduction to the book, which accurately describes Perry's awesome talent and assuredness. Connelly uses the word "velocity" as a description of plots that delight us, and this is the perfect word for Perry's plot. There are only two main characters, the unnamed professional hitman, and the Justice Department agent Elizabeth Weiser, plus many other characters. Perry cleverly alternates chapters between these two characters to hold our interest, and this is a very successful suspense device. The book flies by. The hitman takes on the Las Vegas mafia families single-handedly, and you believe that he can manage it. He is no non-human superhero, though. He is believable in every way. Likewise, Elizabeth is also a real human being, in the field reluctantly for the first time, and simultaneously doubtful and self-confident. You just have to read Perry's work to see how smoothly he creates these characters. He also sees Las Vegas as what it is, or was thirty years ago. The narration is flawless. Mr. Kramer understands the writer, and has narrated all of Mr. Perry's books. He is fluid and entertaining. He builds the suspense for us. You can never guess the plot's twists and turns. You will at one moment fully suspect that someone with a gun will sneak in the door, and then Mr. Perry surprises you. Even Elizabeth is surprised and hoodwinked. This is a terrific book, and I am sure that I will eventually listen to all of Mr. Perry's books. Great entertainment!
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