Welcome to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine!
Here's a little of what Jon Breen has to say about Robert B. Parker's latest Spenser novel in his review for EQMM: "*** Robert B. Parker: Bad Business, Putnam, $24.95. Boston private eye Spenser, hired to get the goods on a wandering husband, encounters sexual and corporate malfeasance and, of course, murder. Parker’s minor classics God Save the Child (1974) and Mortal Stakes (1975) were followed by a series of socially significant, always well- written, but seriously underplotted sequels. More recent wisecrack-driven Spenser novels are pure entertainment, less reminiscent of Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald than of old radio shows like Blake Edwards’s Richard Diamond."
I hadn't thought about before, but Jon has a point. I've probably mentioned that I still read Parker, though a lot of people have simply given up on him because he no longer writes the kind of books he did earlier in his career. One reason may be that I grew up listening to radio shows like RICHARD DIAMOND, SAM SPADE (I knew him as Howard Duff on radio long before I saw THE MALTESE FALCON on film or read the novel), and BARRY CRAIG, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR. My father was a particular fan of the latter show because Barry Craig got hit on the head and knocked out so often. He thought that was the sign of a good program. At any rate, the wisecracking on those shows, and on others, particularly Jack Webb's PAT NOVAK (I think that's right), was part of my growing up, and I still enjoy it when I read Parker's books or when I listen to one of the old radio programs on tape.
I also happen to think that even Parker's recent novels have a certain amount of social significance in them, but I could easily be wrong about that.