The most personal and revealing Spenser thriller of all, Pastime is Robert B. Parkers electrifying masterpeice of crime fiction—a startling game of memory, desire, and danger that forces Spenser to face his own past. Ten years ago, he saved a teenage boy from a fathers rage. Now, on the brink of manhood, the boy seeks answers to his mothers sudden disapearance. Spenser is the only man he can turn to.
This time, its more than a routine search for a missing person—Spenser must search his dialogue and fine character development, the Spenser books carry on a tradition while updating it, particularly in giving its hero two strong alter egos in Hawk, a black friend and right-hand man; and Susan Silverman, Spensers psychologist love interest. Parkers inclusion of other races and sexual persuasions (several of his novels feature gay characters, a sensibility strengthened in Parker through his sons, both of whom are gay) give a more modern feel to the cases coming into Spensers office. The Spenser series, which began with 1973s The Godwulf Manuscript, has an element of toughness that suits its Boston milieu; but it delves just as often into the complex relationship between Silverman and Spenser, and the interplay between the P.I. and Hawk. By the late ‘80s, Parker had acquired such a reputation that the agent for Raymond Chandlers estate tapped him to finish the legends last book, Poodle Springs. It was a thankless mission bound to earn criticism, but Parker carried off the task well, thanks to his gift for to-the-point writing and deft plotting. Parker isnt, even here, the writer Chandler was, but hes not a sentimentalist, and he darkens and deepens Marlowe, the Atlantic concluded. In 1991, Parker took a second crack at Chandler with the Big Sleep sequel Perchance to Dream. Parker took other detours from Spenser over the years. In 1999, Family Honor introduced Sunny Randall, a female Boston private eye Parker created with actress Helen Hunt in mind. Two years earlier, he introduced L.A.-to-New England cop transplant Jesse Stone in Night Passage. He also authored four bestselling Westerns featuring Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, a few young adult books, as well as several stand-alone novels that were well-received by his many fans. Parker died suddenly in January 2010 while at home at his desk, working on a book. The cause was a heart attack. He was seventy-seven.
Good To Know
Parkers thesis in graduate school was a study of the private eye in literature that centered on Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Ross MacDonald. Critics would later put him in the same category as those authors. Parkers main hero is named for Edmund Spenser, the 16th-century author of The Faerie Queene. Parker had a hand in writing the scripts for some television adaptations of Spenser books starring Robert Urich, who also played Spenser in the ABC series from 1985-88. Urich suffered a battle with cancer and passed away in 2002, but adaptations continue to be made for A&E, starring Joe Mantegna. Parker approved of the new actor, telling the New York Times: I looked at Joe and I saw Spenser. According to a profile in the New York Times, Parker met his wife Joan when the two were toddlers at a birthday party. The two reconnected as freshmen at Colby College and eventually had two sons. They credit the survival of their marriage to a house split into separate living spaces, so that the two can enjoy more independent lives than your average husband and wife. Parker told fans in a 1999 Barnes & Noble.com chat that he thought his non-series historical novel All Our Yesterdays was the best thing Ive ever written. Parker had a small speaking part in the 1997 A&E adaptation of Small Vices. How does he have time to write his Spenser books, plus the other series and the adaptation stuff? Keep in mind, it takes me four or five months to write a novel, which leaves me a lot of time the rest of the year, he told Book magazine. I dont like to hang around.