In 1974, a revolutionary group calling itself the Dread Scott Brigade held up the old Shawmut Bank in Boston's Audubon Circle. Money was stolen. And a woman named Emily Gordon, a visitor in town cashing traveler's checks, was shot and killed. No one saw who shot her. Despite security camera photos and a letter from the group claiming responsibility, the perpetrators have remained at large for nearly three decades.
Enter Paul Giacomin, the closest thing to a son Spenser has. Twice before, Spenser has come to the young man's assistance, and now that Paul is in his 30s, his troubled past is behind him. When Paul's friend Daryl Gordon -daughter of the long-gone Emily - decides she needs closure about the matter of her mother's death, it's Spenser she turns to. The lack of clues and the fact that an FBI intelligence report is missing force Spenser to reach out in every direction - to Daryl's estranged hippie father; to Vinnie Morris and the mob; to the mysterious Ives - and test his resourcefulness and courage.
"Series fans will be satisfied." (Booklist)
"Bernhardt keeps his foot flat on the accelerator, producing action at every turn." (Orlando Sentinel)
okay: I haven't enjoyed a Parker novel in awhile, but this one, although not the most innovative, is fun and witty. His last few books have felt forced and written "just because..." Narrator is also excellent and gives each character a voice of his own.
16 of 17 people found this review helpful
I think that I have listened to every "Spenser" novel that's available on Audible. It isn't so much that they are fantastic books... it's more that they are predictable in their high-quality. I tend to listen to these short Robert B. Parker novels between larger books... enjoying a mostly mindless story before undertaking another long listen.
Joe Mantegna continues his entertaining portrayal as Spenser... one that he's also become known for in made-for-TV movies. As a side-note, the voices that he gives his female characters in his readings never fail to amuse me. I particularly enjoy when he attempts to pull off a rendition of a woman trying to seduce Spenser. Those laughs alone make the commute fly by quickly.
13 of 14 people found this review helpful
This is my first story with this author. I like the straightforward language and the good, interesting story. I've been listening to other thriller/detective stories, and this is a good mix of straightforward writing, good, interesting plot, and understandable characters. It's engaging and complete without a lot of wasted words.
He gets at meaningful interactions between characters without wasting words. The reader gets the picture without the author's having to waste words and time with a lot of description and dialogue. I suspect this kind of writing is tough to accomplish, and it's good to read.
So it's 4 stars: good story, concise writing, interesting and tightly drawn characters, and that interesting dialogue: lots of tough guy lingo, and you can see the various characters sizing each other up and staring each other down. And shooting each other.
Mantegna is a good listen, too.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful
I guess I knew this day was coming, but it's been a heckuva ride, I must say. As in most serials that have basically run out of gas, these books are beginning to have a sameness for me which drags each of them down. The wit is still there, the arch sophisticated worldview that our three heroes (Spenser, Hawk and Dr. Susan Silverman) convey. And, Joe Mantegna still does a really creditable job, although on the "he said-she said" controversy I come down on the side of the Michael Prichard fans. The milieu, however, has become too familiar. Boston still seems like a really interesting city, and Spenser's delightfully idiosyncratic view of it continues to entertain. The plots, though, have become so similar and repetitive that I truly have to stretch to recall them. I did enjoy the April the prostitute miniseries, which allowed us to get a little bit under Spenser's facade to show us his compulsion to rescue damsels in distress (how psychological! And from me, a psychologist!).
The one thing I deliberately have not done is to read the book in which Susan dies. Clearly it is time for me to do this now. I hope that this kind of real-world development (although just a tiny bit extreme and melodramatic for my tastes) may give us another chance to see Spenser as a flesh-and-blood fictional character (huh?). Up to now his suit of armor hasn't been pierced in any significant way. Maybe in that case it will be. For now, the mix-and-match lost kids-disturbed families-helpful/semi-helpful cops above whom Spenser and Hawk rise to the rescue: I've just about had it. For an author who has found a way to mint money by reeling off one after another just-slightly modified book, it must have taken a whole lot of guts for Mr. Parker to walk across to the other side of the desk and see his guy from a whole 'nother point of view. This is an accomplishment that, I dare say, Lee Child will never ever even approach. My hat is truly off to Mr. Parker.
7 of 10 people found this review helpful
I really loved this book. Spencer's "adopted" son, Paul, is in the story and I love Paul. He was introduced to us in the Spencer series book, "Early Autumn" . In my opinion, it would be good to have already read or listened to Early Autumn so that you know all about Paul before you listen to Back Story, but it is not necessary since this story can stand on its own. Hawk and Susan are in the story line of Back Story, which helps make it a great book. Also, Spencer meets Jesse Stone in this book. Stone appears in as the Police Chief of the town Paradise. At the first of this book It is revealed in the first of this book that Pearl the wonderdog has passed away - amazingly, Susan and Spencer get a puppy, the same breed as Pearl, to help get over the grief. To make things even more "fun", the story line brings back the memory of the hippie movement and free love. As you can see, in addition to the main story line of a 28 year old cold case murder which Spencer is attempting to solve, there is a lot going on! The reader, Joe Mantegna does his usual great job reading the book. I loves his interpretation of Spencer and of the reoccuring characgers of Susan, Hawk, Quirk, Belson, etc. I expecially love his interpretations of the very well written, witty conversations between Spencer and Hawk.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels are best read in chronological order, and this is the latest in the series. The character of Spenser has grown amazingly in the tellings and has become not only a hard-boiled dectective, but the kind of man you want as your best friend. Parker is also to be commended on his fine and subtle sense of sarcasm in the use of dialogue. If ever there was a series that is suited to the audio format the Spenser books are it! There is a wit and charm going on that may not come off in hardcopy if you haven't first heard these books done well; and they are narrated VERY well by Joe Mantegna!
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Kim & Lawrenc are right. Just listen to the sample. What a great way to ruin an audio book..."I said","I said","I said". I'm goin' for the paperback.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful
One of the better dramatizations of Parker's best detective and his erudite sidekick, Hawk (if only Avery Brooks could have voiced Hawk this would be perfect in every way).
I love the Spencer books, and Joe Mantegna makes him come alive for me. The story is "good trumps evil" even it does smash a few folks around and maybe leaves some not-so-alive. The story was a great read and a small escape into the land where "everything works out in the end".
Any additional comments?
Classic Parker. Spencer does it again. Mantegna hits the nail on the head.