When a mature, beautiful, and composed April strides into Spenser's office, the Boston PI barely hesitates before recognizing his once and future client. Now a well-established madam, April oversees an upscale call-girl operation in Boston's Back Bay. Still looking for Spenser's approval, it takes her a moment before she can ask him, again, for his assistance. Her business is a success; what's more, it's an all-female enterprise. Now that some men are trying to take it away from her, she needs Spenser.
April claims to be in the dark about who it is that's trying to shake her down, but with a bit of legwork and a bit more muscle, Spenser and Hawk find ties to organized crime and local kingpin Tony Marcus, as well as a scheme to franchise the operation across the country. As Spenser again plays the gallant knight, it becomes clear that April's not as innocent as she seems. In fact, she may be her own worst enemy.
©2006 Robert B. Parker; (P)2006 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"The old pros can make it look easy, and that goes for both the author and his hero as they deliver the goods smoothly and with inimitable style." (Publishers Weekly)
...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?
This is as an entertaining listen as the Parker/Mantegna pairings usually are and has quite a bit of the witty repartee that is Parker's style. I enjoyed the story, the reading of the story, and Parker's writing.
Small "however", however...Parker has put in a little bit of proselytizing regarding the 'victimless' crime of prostitution (I think there would be a few wives who'd disagree). And there a few other slyly inserted bits of political opinion here and there. I've quit reading Stephen King and Le Carre because they seem to be more interested in presenting their political opinions rather than writing a good story. Drug companies/big government/abortion rants aren't fun to read when one is in the middle of a decent story. Parker is tip-toeing into that area in this book and I hope he realizes we read his books for a good time rather than indoctrination.
But except for that little failing, it's a good read for riding back and forth to work. I chuckled out loud more than a few times. I still see the fellow who played Spenser on TV as my version when I read the books...makes for a VERY pleasant few hours of listening.
As an avid audiobook fan, I was turned off by this selection within the first 10 minutes by the author's overuse of "he said," "she said." It was so distracting that I started and stopped the story several times within a week, then gave up altogether after struggling through 2 hours. Also, I love a mystery, but this story lacks substance.
Spenser and Hawk are two of my favorite fictional literature characters, and were played accurately on TV and in movies by Robert Urich and Avery Brooks. Mr. Mantegna was never convincing in film as Spenser but he does a fine job as a reader, I was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately it still doesn't work. Mr. Parker's beautiful style is very sparse, using conversation as the mechanism to tell the story (no 400 pages of Steven Erikson to open a single door here). Unfortunately the reading script needs screen play or stage play editing to remove the near endless, "I said, she said, he said" remarks. They are migraine inducing and disrupt the pace and flow of the story, rendering even some of Parker's best works poor as audio books.
This story, the third appearance of April Kyle, is tired out of the gate, although the dialog between Hawk and Spenser sparkles as it should. It's too bad, because this story drops the majority of the pendantic psycho analysis babble that afflicts some of the other Parker books. Parker may be one of those authors best read from paper.
Didn't even finish the first chapter. I just couldn't deal with the constant repetition of he said, she said. Someone needs to buy this author a thesaurus. Please...
Audible please come up with some better recommendations for mystery enthusiasts. I really believe, with a little effort, you could do better.
I love Parker's quirky chracters, the regulars and the new ones he introduces with every entertaining novel.
Spenser because he is always a step ahead and consistantly maintains his sense of humor.
I loved his sexual intraspection upon realizing the girl in his office was young April! His ethics with women have always impressed me.
Expose them to culture and they will think on their own.
Their is nothing more fun than a Spenser novel. Thank you Mr. Parker and thanks to his family for carrying on the Spenser books.
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