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Paper Doll (Spenser, #20)
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Paper Doll (Spenser #20)

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  3,150 ratings  ·  87 reviews
She was a model wife and mother, bludgeoned with a hammer on the streets of Beacon Hill. Spenser's searching for a motive and a murderer--and finding more secrets than meet the eye...
ebook, 288 pages
Published April 1st 1994 by Berkley Books (first published 1993)
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Apparently the years of drinking improperly distilled corn liquor have caused more damage than I thought because I had previously rated this as one star and marked it as the place the Spenser series went off the rails. Actually, it’s not that bad at all.

Olivia Nelson was the wife of Boston blue blood Loudon Tripp and they seemed to have a textbook family and a perfect life until Olvia screwed it up by getting whackity-whacked with a hammer to the noggin while walking down the street. With no obv
First let me get a few things out of the way. This is a book from 1994. I found it on the book exchange shelf at work and decided to check it out since I was between books. It is also #20 in a series of books about a Private Detective named Spenser although that really doesn’t matter as it was pretty clear each book easily stands on its own.

The general plotline is…Olivia Nelson is the perfect wife to a perfect husband and together they have a perfect marriage. This perfect couple had two perfect
Wow. Maybe the best Spenser book I've read. His characters had depth and complexity. The murderer could only have been found by the incredible Spenser. As always, good dialogue.

a few comparisons that I savored:

a fireplace spacious enough to roast a moose.

a receptionist with the efficiency of a Russian farm collective.

blue jeans as capacious as Delaware.
Stephen Mettee
Chewing gum for the mind.

As I was digging into my boxes and boxes of books stored two moves ago, I ran across this 1993 Spenser novel. I thought I'd read every one of Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels, but I hadn't read this one.

Would have liked more of Susan and Hawk, but still a great and easy read.Four stars.

It is interesting to note that the copy I have is a first printing that had been remaindered. (Sent back to the publisher unsold and then "remaindered" to a dealer to be sold at a dis

Kevin Doyle
This one is a rarity among Parker's Spenser books. Don't get me wrong, I think most of his books are great. However, like a lot of people, they really don't do much in the mystery end of things. Action yarns, check. Character studies, absolutely. Fun, quick reads, most of them. Actual mysteries, not usually so much.

But with Paper Doll, Parker presents an actual mystery for his PI to solve, and he does so in layers. Most readers will no doubt easily figure out the true identity of the victim ear

What a refreshing book, even though it showed a dark side of the politial world. There were lots of quotable gems. Spenser:
"I am trustworthy, loyal, and helpful. But I struggle with obedient."
Fun: "How old were you when you dropped out of charm school?"
Observation: "If he really saw me at all, it was peripherally. In his
public self he probably saw everything peripherally. His focus was on him." Observation of Susan: One of the many things about Susan that I
admired was that she never made convers
I could not find a writer I like more than Robert B. Parker. I found this book the other day at the library, and I did not remember reading it. This thrilled me, because I've not read one of Mr. Parker's book in quite some time. Paper Doll is a great story. It was definitely interesting, and I liked reading about my favorite characters again. Farrell is introduced in this book, and Spenser was considerate and a good friend, as Farrell went through the death of his partner. Spenser is such a mult ...more
The Spenser books are like comfort food for me. I've read this book countless times, but I picked it up again this weekend for a much-needed diversion. Parker is a master of the snappy dialogue and fast-paced plot. I've yet to read a true clunker in this series.

I last rated this back in 2008, as happens occasionally, I've been on a Spenser kick and am rereading many in the series.
A classic Spenser that involves an actual mystery or two. Unlike the later years when Spenser's MO was simply annoy everybody until the bad guys tried to off him, whereupon he would call for Hawk and blow them all away, this one actually had a plot in addition to the vintage Spenser dialog. Hawk has only a minor role and Paul is absent but there is lots of badinage and canoodling with Susan. There is also a large canine cast, including, of course, Pearl the wonder dog, whose mission in life is ...more
Larry Marshall
Robert Parker is my favorite mystery author. In memory to him I'm re-reading his Spenser series. I won't review them as they've been around for a long time but they're great, every time I read them.
Shirley Worley
Spenser is hired by Boston aristocrat Loudon Tripp to find his wife's killer after the police deem the murder at a stand still. Digging deep, Spenser quickly realizes that Tripp's idealized view of his picture-perfect wife, picture-perfect kids, and picture-perfect life are anything but. Even the recently departed Olivia Tripp is not who or what she appears on the surface. Spenser uncovers an affair with a politician, a small town scandal, once wealthy family that are now bankrupt, and a child w ...more
What can you say about a writer who can conjure up the likes of Spenser as well as Hawk. Their repartee is the hook and the plots and additional characters reel you in. Anyone who has lived in Boston will particularly enjoy the settings and characters. I am trying to finish up reading every single one of the Spenser series. Almost done!
Entertaining as all Parker's books have been so far with the twist at the end. This isn't his best only because it wasn't as sharp I felt some of the mysteries weren't revealed and the murder victims motives not as clear.
55 out of 100 for 2010

Spenser is hired by a prominent Bostonian named Tripp to find out who killed his wife. The police have no clues; the killing seems a truly senseless act. Spenser begins looking into the woman's past, and there is much to learn, including the fact that she quite literally is not who she says she is . . . a US Senator is brought low.

The most interesting thing about the book is that it introduces Lee Farrell, a tough, competent gay cop who comes to figure prominently in the S
Spenser enters a world where nothing is as it seems. With deception, cover-ups and a family scandal, this case had our big thug....scratching his head. Another quick/fun read.
Mike Jensen
I am sick, sick, sick of private eye novels about screwed up families. The second star is for the gratuitous references to King Lear and Hamlet.
Bill Reed
This book is an example of why RBP was so good.
Sure do miss him and his wonderful talent.
Gerald Curtis
This was my second Robert B Parker book. I really liked the first one, Promised Land, written in 1976, a purer and more innocent time in our history. This book, written in 1993, while equally good in terms of the crimes solved, sadly deteriorated into a constant stream of gratuitous sex and vulgar profanity. Had it been my first read, I would not have bothered with a second. But because I enjoy his writing (when it actually pertains to the story and not focused on vulgarity or titillation), I am ...more
12-22-2104 Socket gave me 3-4 Parker woods a few years ago.
I ran out of light sick bed reading material.
This was perfect. I had just read it3 months ago. too soon but it seemed to work this time.

re-read october 2014
add lecherous, criminal, sick, rapist, to go with my april 2009 adjectives.

april 2009
Loudon Tripp hires spenser, then fires him. If is seems too perfect, as in life, it is. and the pac called The American Democratic Imperative... and the crooked, evil, socio-pathic and pathetic senato
Amy W.
Robert Parker was a great writer. I like Jesse Stone series a little more but love all of them
Cathy Cusson
Enjoyable read. Very definitely a dysfunctional family.
Great story! But very little of Hawk in this one.
Love the snappy dialogue. This series is super!
Leslie Jem
Introduces Lee Farrell, gay police officer.
Another winning Spencer novel from Parker.
joyce lynn
again, not one of his best in this series, but a good book.

once more, tho, i find it difficult to believe that people can get away w/ what they get away w/! of course, during the time this was written, we didn't have the kind of computers we have now, so that explains so of it, i guess.

still ... our world is a sick one, and getting drastically sicker all the time. has just been sick for longer than i thought, tho, apparently! 8^(
Jeff Yoak
This one was more of a mystery than most of the Spenser stories and that quality was good enough, but there was less of what makes Spenser special somehow. There was almost no hawk. There was never really any tension around the characters, but just sort of a plodding toward figuring things out. Not one of my favorites.
July Wolfe
This book was the first time I got where Spenser was going long before Parker revealed it (which probably doesn't say much for my intellect), but I still couldn't figure out the final "whodunit." I really enjoy a book that can flow so enjoyably, without requiring mental calisthenics to keep up, and still surprise me.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database named Robert B. Parker.
Robert Brown Parker was an American crime writer. His most famous works were the novels about the private detective Spenser. ABC television network developed the television series Spenser: For Hire based on the character in the late 1980s; a series of TV movies based on the character were also produced.
More about Robert B. Parker...

Other Books in the Series

Spenser (1 - 10 of 43 books)
  • The Godwulf Manuscript (Spenser, #1)
  • God Save The Child (Spenser, #2)
  • Mortal Stakes (Spenser, #3)
  • Promised Land (Spenser, #4)
  • The Judas Goat (Spenser, #5)
  • Looking For Rachel Wallace (Spenser, #6)
  • Early Autumn (Spenser, #7)
  • A Savage Place (Spenser, #8)
  • Ceremony (Spenser, #9)
  • The Widening Gyre (Spenser, #10)
The Godwulf Manuscript (Spenser, #1) Sixkill (Spenser, #39) Painted Ladies (Spenser, #38) Chance (Spenser, #23) Split Image (Jesse Stone, #9)

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