Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Professional -- Robert B. Parker

Yes, I'm still reading Parker. Yes, I still like the books. I'm pretty sure it's the voice more than anything, certainly not the plots, not in The Professional, in which Spenser is asked to put a stop to an extortionist who's got the goods on four women married to wealthy husbands. Spenser finds the culprit, talks to him, and finds he kind of likes the guy. He also finds there's no way to stop him.

Eventually someone is murdered. Spenser, no longer on salary, investigates. There's no prize for guessing whodunnit. It's all too obvious, and [SPOILER ALERT] if you've ever read Of Mice and Men, you might think that Parker comes dangerously close to over-homaging this time. [END OF SPOILER ALERT]

There is, as usual, more of Susan than is good for the book, and way too much of Spenser's singing her praises. Credit where it's due, though. There's not much of Pearl the Wonder Dog. Also Spenser doesn't say "We'd be fools not to" until around page 50. Admirable restraint. However, on page 172 Susan says, "We'd be foolish not to." Overkill.

There's one thing about this book that's different, though. Or maybe not. Anyway, it's the first Parker book I remember that's not dedicated to Joan. That's a big break with tradition, for what it's worth. Or maybe there are others not dedicated to her that I haven't noticed. Oh, well.


Evan Lewis said...

Maybe we'd be fools to read it, but we'd be fools not to.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

"The Professional" is sitting on my nightstand and may be what I pick up next. I'm still reading the Spenser novels as soon as they come out, and can't imagine not doing so.

This is very interesting about it not being dedicated to Joan. I don't remember this happening before either. Anyone know if it has?

Unknown said...

It was that sickly sweet over-praising that had turned me off the Spenser novels about 15 years ago. Parker had a good run with me though. 20 years... wow.

Paul Bishop said...

Still reading whatever Parker writes as soon as it comes out. Like you, I think it's the voice more than anything else.

Lee Goldberg said...

Maybe Joan was embarrassed to have her name on them any more :-)

THE PROFESSIONAL isn't as bad as the last Spenser (which was the worst one ever) but it's still a lousy book, a boring, aimless laundry list of Parker cliches and some amazingly lazy plotting...he was clearly making up as he went along. I can't understand why I keep reading him when he keeps disappointing me. If this book had been written by newbie instead of Parker, it wouldn't have been published. It's a truly terrible book. I wish he'd cut back to one novel a year and really put some effort into his work again instead of hacking them out. And boy, does this feel like hack work. His Spenser books used to be were his early Jesse Stones...and now both series are as awful as his Sunny Randall books. Now the only good stuff he's putting out are his Virgil Cole westerns...and I fear that he'll Sunny Randall them, too.