Sunday, May 30, 2010

Split Image -- Robert B. Parker

It pains me to say it, but this isn't a good book. I've admired Robert B. Parker's work since the publication of The Godwulf Manuscript, and I still have my book-club edition of that one. (Too bad I didn't spring for the trade edition, eh?) I've read every novel he's written since that one, and I've enjoyed them all. I even enjoyed this one, but not much.

There are two main plots, with Jesse Stone working on the murder of a mobster and Sunny Randall working to remove a young woman from a religious cult. Both plots are thin, and so they're padded out with many visits by Stone and Randall to their respective shrinks (Randall's is Susan Silverman, whose clothes and manner Randall admires as much as Spenser does). Meanwhile, the Stone/Randall personal relationship is developing.

The dialog's sharp, and I laughed, but even I have to admit that the book's just not very good. I hope the remaining Spenser novels are better.


  1. I noticed a falling off of Parker's work...back in the Eighties. It seemed like Parker wasn't trying to be in the Hammett/Chandler class any more. Yes, he produced dozens of entertaining books after that, but nothing as good as The Godwulf Manuscript.

  2. inevitable, when an author puts out three or four a year, that the quality would drop off dramatically. Dick Francis another good example, and there are many. Easy enough to reread Early Autumn, Rachel Wallace, etc..tough to get through the last few Parkers even once......

  3. I hope he wrote a couple early on to save for last as Christie did.

  4. Anonymous11:13 AM

    In the last few years, I enjoyed his westerns. I do enjoy the job Tom Selleck has done in bringing the Jesse Stone novels to the screen. All in all, though, I could always count on a Parker novel to have great dialogue and move along rapidly. I went to a luncheon that was hosted by Murder By The Book in Houston with Parker as the guest, and it was memorable. Parker was honest about his work. He said he began writing so that he would not have to work. I thought that was classic. Ken McAlister, Baton Rouge

  5. Hmmm . . . I can't disagree with your review, but I can't say I didn't enjoy the book. Lee Goldberg recently tore apart Blue-Eyed Devil - Parker's latest western. Again, I couldn't disagree with his specific points, yet I certainly enjoyed the book.

    For me, even sub-par Parker is more entertaining than most. I always get an enjoyable read from him.