©1986 Robert B. Parker; (P)2009 Random House
As I have started from the beginning on listening to the Spenser series, so far I have found this one to be the most entertaining.
The relationship between Hawk and Spencer is growing and I even laughed out loud at some of their dialogue.
The relationship with Susan is understandable from Spencer's side but I think she is too wishy-washy for my taste.
The only con for this review is that Parker's ending was wrapped up a little to quick IMO.
Can't wait to listen to the next one in the Spencer series.
This is where the series starts to get weird, and it's hard to disassociate it from the personal life of the author, if you have any knowledge of that. The good: this is some of the best pure action you're likely to get in a Spenser novel. It hits the ground running and doesn't stop. Hawk and Spenser genuinely feel like they are thinking through incredible odds to triumph in ways that at least seem plausible. "Grounded" is the hollywood term. It's when you get to Spenser and Susan when things take a turn for the weird. Spenser is forced to do a lot of morally questionable things in order to extricate Susan from a situation which by her own admission is of her own making. I'm not sure if it's a fault of the plot or the point, but Susan chooses a man that any reasonably sane woman would steer clear of. When Spenser and Susan finally get to talk about her choices and the events of the story, including those terrible things Spenser was forced to do to save her, the entirety of the conversation is about her problems and how her choices made sense TO HER, as if that is all that matters. And Spenser's acceptance of this interpretation takes me out of the story. There is no question in my mind that Susan's choices would only be made by a profoundly damaged person and the lack of attention to the collateral damage caused by these choices...well, I have to attribute it to an author who has lost his way in his own life, because no other character objects (Paul would seem to be an ideal choice for a dissenting opinion). It makes for a strange and off-putting reading experience. On some level Parker must have agreed because these question will all be addressed in Potshot (I believe) when Spenser finally takes Susan to task for what she puts him through in this book. But really, it needed to be in this novel. Spenser comes off, to some extent, as a lovelorn dope for whom anything is excusable, no matter how morally repugnant, in his quest. Susan comes off as a sociopath who cares for nothing but her own personal development. It's the nightmare of psychiatry and self help gone awry come true.
Ironically when these issues are finally addressed in Potshot, it gives that book a moral and emotional center that is missing in this entry.
And yet... everything else about this book is just so good that I am forced to ignore this so I can enjoy the action.
Susan Silverman who ran away to San Francisco calls Spenser in need of rescue. Like a Saint Bernard he hurries to her rescue; Hawk comes along it seems that he too inexplicably would do anything for Susan Silverman. They go along to various places together killing people and garnering charges. They rescue Susan; who having grown tired of her fling with Jerry Costigan is prepared to return to Boston and to Spenser. He seems to be quite willing to accept her; no questions asked. Because according to Parker there is no other woman in the world likes the shoe shopping clothes horse, girl of Spenser's dreams. Hawk of course loves her too; enough to risk his life and freedom for her. Once he has Susan back there is still the little matter of the law breaking spree that Spenser and Hawk have gone on. The U S government decides that it can all go away if they will just kill Costigan's father; an arms supplier connected with the defense industry because they are the scourge of the U S government.. Naturally Spenser and Hawk decide that murder is the way to go. After all it's all worth it if Susan has returned to Spenser. For whatever reason it's worth to him as well. Spenser is back with Susan; all is well with the world.
This had more action than most of his books, and it was good action. I enjoyed it. Although, it did not have as much humor and wit as the early books.
The major flaw for me was Susan’s motivations and actions described in Spoiler below. In the previous book (#11), she left Spenser to “find herself” - my words. She dates Russell Costigan, a married man. Russell’s father is one of the richest men in the world, dealing in guns and mercenary armies. Even though I didn’t like the spoiler issues, it was still a pretty good story. The Hawk and Spenser partnership is good.
Susan loves both Russell and Spenser and can’t decide what to do. She sends a letter to Hawk asking for help. The letter implies she’s in trouble. Hawk goes to help and gets arrested in a set up. Susan then writes to Spenser implying she’s being held against her will by Russell. Hawk and Spenser kill others, are almost killed themselves several times, and risk going to jail - all of this for Susan. I believe she could have left Russell on her own if she wanted to. Instead many men die in order for Hawk and Spenser to save her? Then she is still wishy washy about not knowing who she wants - Russell or Spenser. I suppose one might say Susan was really saying “save me from myself.”
The narrator Michael Prichard was very good.
Genre: PI mystery
Once again, Spencer is off with Hawkk to accomplish the impossibe. This riviting tail read by famed narrator, Michael Prichard carries the listener along on the adventure. Great listen!
Rescue of Susan Silverman
Absolutely. I listened while I exercise and I had to walk an extra 5 miles to finish
Looks like Robert Parker was trying to explore some new directions with this one; this reads more like a James Bond novel than the typical Spenser we know and love. It even has a globetrotting villain with ambitions of world domination. Susan is completely out of character and her demeanor is incongurent with her outlook and behaviors in earlier or later books. She comes across as a whining, neurotic untrustworthy individual and we think less of Spenser for still being enamored by her after this. Spenser and Hawk are more like superheros in this one rather than like normal people. In addition, the plot borders on the absurd. The bad guys and their henchmen are like stereotypical bad guys in movies, easily subdued by a single punch. They don't apparently talk to each other so the henchmen in a highly secure location don't know that Spenser is wanted by the chief villain and has taken out another highly secure location! Its fortunate that Parker abandoned this vein of plotting and returned to his regular style in later books.
None of the behaviors of Spenser or Susan made any sense based on the development of said characters in other books by the author. For example: Susan says something like "He is a violent man but would never be violent to me." It just doesn't sound like something the character, a future shrink, should say.
Only buy if it's on sale really cheap.
A bit less monotone melodrama would be nice.
Susan could be cut from this one and Spenser and Hawk could chase bad guys and it would be better.
I have read this book several times over the years and it was a pleasure to hear it read out loud.
This book, and Looking For Rachal Wallace are two of Parker's best.
Wow. From the first pages I was wondering "How is Spenser going to get out of this one?" I really enjoyed it. And of course Prichard is great.
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