Posts Tagged ‘Robert B. Parker’

I discovered Robert B. Parker through fellow blogger Dolce Bellezza’s post. I haven’t heard of Robert Parker before and so I thought that when I get the chance, I will try reading one of his books. I got a chance to read one of his recent books ‘The Professional’ and I finished it yesterday. Here is the review.

Summary of the story

I am giving below the summary of the story as given in the back cover of the book.

Spenser has never had any difficulty handling women, but when four stunningly beautiful trophy wives hire him to protect them against a blackmailer threatening to expose their infidelities, even he must admit they look like trouble.

      Tracking down the blackmailer poses few problems for a private eye of Spenser’s abilities – and almost in spite of himself Spenser finds that he quite likes the guy. Certainly the women, with their loose purse-strings and looser morals, and their loveless marriages to powerful, corrupt men, are hard to feel sorry for.

      But a killing soon changes the complexion of the case, and draws Spenser into the world of Boston’s monied aristocracy : a world of corruption, vice and murder. As the bodies start to pile up, Spenser must decide which of his friends he can trust.

What I think

I found ‘The Professional’ quite interesting. The story was interesting for a while, and became complex after a while as it was difficult to tell who were the genuinely bad guys. (One reading of this could be the clichéd one – that the world is not made up of good guys and bad guys, but there are many shades of grey in between). The first murder came after 180 pages (it is a 290-page book) and the next one came after another 50 pages. And then the bodies started piling up slowly. The ending was a bit predictable and it was not the most important thing about the book.

From my perspective, the most important thing in the book was Robert Parker’s prose. I enjoyed Robert Parker’s prose. It is minimalistic, filled with dialogues and one has to really mine the book for descriptions. The ratio between dialogues and descriptions would probably be 90% : 10%. Because of the dialogues the story moves at a whirlwind pace. The book also has many one-liners which are a pleasure to read. One could say that Parker’s prose is (Raymond) Chandlersque. Maybe Parker was trying to pay tribute to the master.

Another thing I liked about the book was the character of Dr.Susan Silverman, Psychotherapist and the significant other of Private Eye Spenser. Susan has a Ph.D from Harvard, is not intimidated by Spenser’s associates and acquaintances – though most of them are hitmen or belong to the underworld or are policemen – and gives her own expert analysis of the situation, when Spenser asks for it. The dialogues between Susan and Spenser are some of the best pages in the book.


I am giving below some of my favourite passages from the book.

Abigail was twenty minutes late, but I had been trained by Susan, who was always late except when it mattered. And I remained calm.

George and Lenny

The bigger of the two was bald, with biceps that strained against the sleeves of a shiny leather jacket. The other guy was slim and dark, with deep-set eyes and graceful hands.

      “Lemme guess,” I said. “You’re George, and you’re Lenny.”

      The muscular guy looked at the slim guy.

      “He’s being a wiseass,” the dark, slim guy said.

      “Maybe he should stop,” the muscle guy said.

The Paparazzi

I went every day to Pinnacle Fitness. I had to be careful. If I improved my body further, the paparazzi would begin following me.

Looking and not looking good

      “Maybe I should shave my head,” I said.

      “White guys don’t look good with their heads shaved,” Hawk said.

      “Why is that?” I said.

      “Don’t know,” Hawk said. “Don’t look as good with hair, either.”

      “Are you making invidious racial comparisons?” I said.

      “Uh-huh,” Hawk said.

Jewish psychotherapist

      “A little guilt is not always a bad thing,” Susan said.

      “And you a psychotherapist,” I said.

      “I’m also Jewish,” she said.

      “I think that’s a tautology,” I said.

      “Oy,” Susan said.

Making progress…

      “Where you calling from?” Hawk said. “You sound kind of echo-y.”

      “Rowes Wharf,” I said. “I’m looking at the water.”

      “You on your cell phone?” Hawk said.

      “I am,” I said.

      “You dialed it by yo’self?” Hawk said.

      “I did,” I said.

      “Man, you makin’ progress,” Hawk said.

      “Susan’s been helping me,” I said.

      Hawk’s chuckle was very deep as he broke the connection.

Getting more out of a drink

      I drank some scotch. It was clarifying. People always claimed it was a bad sign if you started drinking alone. I always thought to sit quietly and alone and drink a little now and then was valuable. Especially if you have a fire to look at. What was it Churchill said? “I have taken more from alcohol than alcohol has ever taken from me.” Something like that. Good enough for Winnie, I thought, good enough for me.

Attracting attention

      “You want to come with me, Specimen?” I said.

      “Naw,” Hawk said. “I think I sit here and see if I attract the attention of some college girls.”

      “I don’t want to discourage you,” I said. “But no one paid any attention to me when I was here last time.”

      Hawk looked at me silently for a while.

      Then he said, “What that got to do with me?”

Solving a crime

      Then she said, “So how do you solve a crime like this?”

      “You don’t always,” I said.

      “But, I mean, how would you even go about it?” she said. “There’s, like, no clues.”

      “You talk to people,” I said. “You ask them questions. You listen to their answers. You compare what they said to what other people have said. You try to assess body language. You try to listen for tone.”

      “Is that what you’re doing now?” Estelle said.


      “How am I doing?” she said.

      “You’re not telling me anything, but it is sort of enjoyable to study your body language.”


      “It’s a dandy body,” I said.

      “Oh,” she said. “Thank you.”

Final Thoughts

I liked reading my first Robert Parker book. I think I will try to find and read the first Spenser novel that he wrote (I think it is ‘The Godwulf Manuscript’). It is always a pleasure finding out how the main characters in a series evolved over time.

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