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Robert B. Parker was the author of more than fifty books. He died in January 2010.

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A bold but surprisingly uncomplex plot distinguishes Spenser's latest adventure as the Boston PI searches for the mother of Paul Giacomin, the young man saved by the burly sleuth 10 years earlier in Early Autumn. Spenser, now ``middle class and uptown,'' is given to drinking Scotch at the Ritz with Susan Silverman, his self-possessed psychiatrist lover, and talking to their dog as if it were a child. But he still works out at the gym with his black friend Hawk, and can stand up to crime boss Joe Broz while trailing Paul's mother to the hideaway of her gangster boyfriend, who has recently stolen a million dollars from the mob. After warning them of their danger from Broz, Spenser is shot in the leg in a violent interchange with Broz's son and friends, who then track him through the Berkshires for two days before he outwits them. Raymond Chandler's influence shows up in the linear plot and the often arch, Dick-and-Jane dialogue. But Parker, a master in his own right, ages Spenser well (even including a bit of background about his childhood) and produces a fast, undemanding but nonetheless satisfying read. Mystery Guild selection; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates. (July)

YA-- Parker's latest mystery features his likable sleuth Spenser (spelled ``like the poet''); the shady, enigmatic Hawk; and Spenser's longtime love, Susan Silverman. In this sequel to Early Autumn (Dell, 1987), Paul Giacomin (now 25) asks Spenser to locate his missing mother, who has become involved with the mob and disappeared under mysterious circumstances. This is one of Parker's strongest novels of late, reminiscent of his earlier works. The emphasis is on character interaction and relationships as opposed to the visceral slasher novels glutting supermarket or newsstand racks. Reading a Spenser novel is like a family reunion--it makes one feel good. --John Lawson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

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