A Spenser Novel
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I spotted the girl even before she knocked on my door. I was gazing out my second- floor office window down at Berkeley Street, eating a cinnamon donut and drinking coffee with a little milk and sugar. The girl looked lost among the businesspeople and tourists hustling along the icy sidewalks. She wore a pink Boston Red Sox cap and an oversized down parka with a fur collar, and stared up at the numbers on the office buildings where Berkeley intersects Boylston.
When she stopped at my building, she folded up a piece of paper and crossed the street with a lot of purpose. I had an open box of donuts and an uncashed check on my desk from Cone, Oakes. I’d done a little work for Rita Fiore and had been paid handsomely.
The winter had been dark, bleak, and endless, but sometime in the last hour I had actually seen the sun. My computer was playing Helen Forrest singing with the Harry James Orchestra. Life was full of promise.
I had a bite of donut just as I heard the knock on the door.
I opened it.
“You Spenser?” asked the girl in the pink Red Sox cap.
“The one and only.”
“People say you’re tough,” she said.
“Did they mention handsome and witty?”
“That you aren’t afraid to use a gun.”
“Only when my feelings get hurt.”
Her accent was South Boston, maybe Dorchester. Henry Higgins could have told me her exact address. I figured her for fifteen or sixteen. She stood about five-foot-five with straight reddish brown hair spilling from the Sox cap. Her eyes were green and very large, made slightly ridiculous with heavy eyeliner. “You really a private investigator?” she asked.
“Says so on the door.”
“And you didn’t get your license from the Internet or any - thing?”
“Were you a cop or something?”
“Thrown off the force for drinking?”
“Then why aren’t you a cop now?”
“I don’t play well with others,” I said. “Would you like to come in?”
She peered around me into my office, checking out my desk, two file cabinets, and the couch where Pearl slept when it was take- your- dog-to-work day. I extended my hand toward my guest chair and sat behind my desk. She joined me.
The girl had a full face with ruddy cheeks, a couple of moles on the right side. A cute kid if she’d sit up straight. But she slouched into her chair and nervously toyed with a Saint Christopher medal.
“Who busted your nose?” she asked.
“Jersey Joe Walcott,” I said.
“Former heavyweight champ,” I said. “Before your time.”
I pushed the box of donuts toward her. She looked down at my carefully chosen assortment. Then she looked back at me, still playing with the medal, and shook her head. I let the silence hang there for a moment. I figured if I waited long enough, she might tell me why she was in need of my services. After a long pause, she did.
“Somebody killed my mom.”
I took a deep breath and leaned forward. “When?”
“Four years ago,” she said.
“I want to find the bastards.”
“Okay.” I nodded. “Why now?”
“Nobody listens to kids,” she said. “I’m older now. You do this kind of stuff , right?”
“I’m good at making people listen,” I said.
“How much do you charge?”
I told her the usual rate. She began to dig through her pockets, pulling out five crumpled twenties and a ten, f attening the cash on my desktop. “Will this get you started?”
Copyright © 2012 by the Estate of Robert B. Parker
In Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby, Ace Atkins gives tough-talking, fist-swinging, damsel-in-distress-saving P.I. Spenser a major reason to strap on his holster.
No one knows better than Spenser’s long-time love, Susan, that when it comes to the fairer sex, the hard-muscled hunk is a big softie—something street-smart Mattie Sullivan discovers when he takes the 14-year-old’s case in exchange for a dozen donuts. It was four years ago that Mattie’s mother was raped and murdered, and she’s convinced that the man convicted of the crime, Mickey Green, is innocent. Why? Because she saw two Dorchester toughs, both known to Spenser, drag her mother into a car. Mattie claims the police wouldn’t listen back then. And now, after Spenser comes up against his own brick wall of blue he has to wonder. When the hardened residents of Southie’s housing projects clam up, too, Spenser calls on long-time pal Hawk to scare some sense into them—and anyone else who helped make Mattie an orphan. What touches Spenser about the wise-beyond-her-years kid is her need, much like his own, to make things right. And he won’t let her down, even as he gets word a really bad guy from his past may be making a comeback.
Hardcover Book : 320 pages
Publisher: Putnam Pub Group/Member, Penguin Putnam ( May 01, 2012 )
Item #: 13-571254
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.75inches
Product Weight: 12.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
This was a good imitation of a Spenser novel, but still just an imitation. The writing style was close to Parker's style but not quite true enough, especially in the first half of the book. I enjoyed the plot, and Spenser's diaglogue was dead on. But Susan was flat and one-dimensional. As for Hawk: who was this swaggering, grandiose, chattering thug?! Not the cool, reserved (except with Spenser), clever, tough guy I've come to love. I'll try the author's next attempt at a Spenser novel, to see if he improves any. Otherwise, that's the end of Spenser and his friends.
I bought this a while ago, but was kinda afraid to read it because Robert B Parker's writing style and dialogue was so unique. I finally picked it up, and ended up staying up till 6 am reading the whole thing. This is probably the best Spenser' book in at least 20 years.
Over the last dozen or so Spenser books, they had become more like quick read fluff pieces than the earlier masterpieces. I still enjoyed them because of the great writing and the familiar characters. Ace Atkins takes the style of the series nearer to my favorite period of books like Looking For Rachel Wallace and Early Autumn. Atkins gets Spenser almost dead on. Hawk is not quite there yet - he's like an amalgamation of early thuggier Hawk and the more gentler, comic book hero Hawk of the later books, but it doesn't feel quite perfect yet. Atkins has definitely done his homework with references to Brenda Loring and other past characters who have passed through the series.
If you're a Spenser fan, I can't recommend this enough!
Reviewer: Dave C
I loved it, couldn't take my eyes off of it. I loved the way he wrote made it seem so realistic. I pictured it in my mind the whole time, and the profanity made it better to me. More realistic like I said, and I loved the way Spenser spoke and thought like a man. I didn't want it to end. Ace Atkins did a great job, I want to read some more of his books as well as Mr.Parkers. :)
Had not read Robert Parker until I started reading Ace Atkins, so I read three of Parker's books before reading Lullaby - thought Atkins did a great job with the book!
I have read and own all of Robert B. Parkers books and own all of the Spencer books in my personal library. While I think Ace Adkins is a good writer, he needs to try harder to pick up the pace and dialogue of Spencer if he wants to keep selling his books. Lullaby is good, but not as good as what Robert Parker would have written.
Reviewer: Sam L