When 14-year-old Mattie Sullivan asks Spenser to look into her mother’s murder, he’s not completely convinced by her claim that the police investigation four years ago was botched. Mattie is gruff, street-smart, and wise beyond her years, left to care for her younger siblings and an alcoholic grandmother in a dilapidated apartment in South Boston. But her need for closure and her determination to make things right hit Spenser where he lives - they’re the very characteristics he abides by.
Mattie believes the man convicted of the crime is innocent, and points Spenser to the Southie toughs she saw carrying her mother away hours before her murder. Neither the Boston PD nor the neighborhood thugs are keen on his dredging up the past, but as Spenser becomes more involved in the case, he starts to realize that Mattie may be on to something. He will need Hawk’s help to find peace for Mattie - a job that’s more dangerous than Spenser ever thought.
©2012 Ace Atkins (P)2012 Random House
Atkins has more than captured the essence of Spenser. I have been rereading all the old Spenser novels (via Audible) and thus the whole enivronment is fresh in my mind. I honestly can not tell that this book was written by a different author. He has captured the universe entirely, including references to unseen characters from previous tomes that fit right into the flow. There is no sense that he used a "checklist" to ensure that he covered all the bases - something very common with follow-on works. Everything here felt right. He captures Susan and Hawk perfectly, and his references to inside-Boston stuff was spot on.
Finally, the story was compelling and held my interest. The new characters were well-developed and felt as if they belonged in the Spenser universe.
Ace gets an A+ from this avid Parker reader. (Are you ready to do another Cole and Hitch?) I'm looking forward to the next Spenser - may he live forever!
Thank you to the Parker estate for letting this series continue.
Joe Mantegna is the perfect reader for this series. I've listened to several others, who range from OK down to horrible - but Joe captures the spirit and attitude of the stores perfectly. (I'm aware that he portrayed Spenser in some made-for-TV movies that were not well received by most Spenser fans, but reading is not the same as acting). Joe does the multiple roles well, and I think he does the best Hawk of any of the readers.
In short, I strongly recommend this novel to either long-time Parker fans, or new readers. You won't be disappointed!
When Robert B. Parker died, you would figure Spenser did as well, but Ace Atkins has kept him alive...the flavor, the crassness, all of it is the Spenser, those of us fans of the original stories are so familiar with. This story was not extraordinary, though the client was fun, But what made it good was the fact that Spenser, Hawk, and Susan are all here and truly the same characters with the same humor and action that Parker so prolifically provided.
Joe Mantegna has done most of the Spenser readings (as well as played Spenser is several TV movies) and so he adds the right touch of sardonic wit to make the book work. If you are a Spenser fan, this will all work for you...if you've never done a Spenser book, go back and listen to the older Spenser books, this one will still be here waiting for you when you come back.
A writer and journalist living in the great Pacific Northwest
As crime stories go, this is pretty good. The problem lies in where the bar is set for this series. Spenser is an American icon and Robert B. Parker was the absolute master of the genre. His use of language was lean and spare, yet packed a punch comparable to Spenser's right cross, and his literary voice was unmistakeable. Asking another writer to pick up his mantle is like asking someone to carry for Hemingway. If you're a casual ran of the genre and aren't overly familiar with Parker, this is a worthy listen. If, like me, you loved Parker's novels and waited for each new Spenser novel the way a child awaits Christmas, then this is a frustrating listen. A Spenser novel is like great jazz. Atkins knows all the notes and he plays them well. But they aren't his notes and it's not his solo he's riffing on. When you listen, you keep telling yourself "That's not Coltrane." With this listen, that same thought kept coming to me: That's not Parker. And I don't mean that as a knock on Ace Atkins. His books, with his own characters, are excellent and I enjoy them -- because he writes them with his own literary voice. Taking over for a master artist is a thankless task, and as efforts to carry on a legend go, this is a worthy effort. But by definition, any such effort is missing that master's touch.
This didn't have that Parker ending, but it was good.
Joe Mantegna was my favorite narrator for Parker's novels. It was a great pairing -- equal to the incredible pairing of James Lee Burke's words and Will Patton's narration. You hear echoes of that great Parker-Mantegna chemistry as he reads this book. He does a wonderful job. But it's not Parker.
It inspired me to go back and listen to the original Spenser novels again. And it inspired me to go looking for more of Ace Atkins' novels. Not sure it inspired me to buy the next effort in this series. This one reminded me of how much we all lost when Parker passed away, and how much this genre owes to its now past master.
I did try making the dish Atkins described early in the book: sweet potatoes, andouille sausage and onions sautéed together with a little real maple syrup and a hint of brown sugar. It was delicious. I added some granny smith apple to mine the second time I made it and it was exceptional.
Not a bad story -- and helping out a kid who wants to find out who killed her mother is definitely something Spenser would do. But as for the rest of it? Fergit it.
First of all, the big, burly, tough-guy, pure male creature like Spenser wouldn't have a high pitched voice like this narrator. Nothing special wrong with the narration -- just that the voice didn't fit. No way is this how Spenser would sound. If Spenser were around, he'd be inclined to kick this guys teeth in.
Second, because this is an audiobook, I can't tell if the narrator is taking liberty with the written text or not, but about three hours in, he starts reading everything without contractions -- so it's "I can not tell you if that is true...." "He did not smile back..." and with a very sing-song cadence. Seriously annoying. What you get is a very stilted rendition, something I don't remember from the original Robert B. Parker books, if it were there -- and yes, I've read every one of them, most of them twice. I don't think Parker would have written it that way, so either this copy-cat author is off, or the narrator is reading stuff that isn't there.
If you love Spenser -- skip this. I won't buy any more, that's for sure.
This is definitely a Spenser story. It's all there: the fight against evil, the artless philosophizing about life, and, of course, working mostly pro bono. My only complaint is that i don't think Atkins quite got Hawk right; he just seemed more talkative than usual. Nonetheless, I'm delighted that Spenser has not passed along with Parker.
The character of Maddie made me laugh as she resisted Spenser's desire to help her/change her/improve her life. Her attitude toward life was both realistic and sad, but I giggled as she resisted Spenser and Susan's attempts to improve or change her approach to negotiating her days. She absolutely tolerated no coddling, no interference with what she perceived as the "right" approach to avenging her mother's death, and, yet, small insights about her feelings emerged with such hints as the fact that she had a toy tiara on her head when Spenser first visited her.
None of the characters reacted in a stereotypical fashion.....the convict was not grateful for Spenser's help, the "dirty" cops don't get their comeuppance, the old foe ends up being sympathetic at the end. But Hawk is always Hawk, and Spenser is always Spenser.
Maddie is spectacular. Mantegna does a good job with her cynical voice. I will always remember the scorn in his/her voice when she announced that the "cops" gave her a card so she could see someone to talk about "her feelings and crap."
Maddie is my favorite, but Mantegna does a great job with the by-play between Hawk and Spenser. His "Hawk" is, by far' the best of all the narrators.
Spenser Meets His Match.
There was something about the work that failed to hold my interest. I can't put my finger on it but it just wasn't as good as Parker's Spenser.
As a Spencer’s fan to be able to continue to enjoy the reading his histories is fabulous news.
There is one thing that changed (for good): The frequency of “I said… He said” has been reduced to a minimum! This makes the reading more fluent and enjoyable.
Just finished Lullaby. Mr Atkins does a pretty good job of capturing the essence of Spenser. Good listen, just not Mr. Parker.
"Indistinguishable from RBP, adore the reading"
I chose this because of Joe Mantegna's outstanding readings of some other books by RBP. I was slightly doubtful about the ghostwriting element.
I need not have worried; the book was indistinguishable from the books by RBP himself. All of them have repetitious and annoying bits, especially regarding Susan IMO. But the reading transforms them into another class. This was an excellent listen.
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