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Back Story (Spenser #30)

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  3,957 Ratings  ·  216 Reviews
In 1974, a revolutionary group calling itself The Dread Scott Brigade held up the Old Shawmut Bank in Boston's Audubon Circle. Money was stolen. And a woman named Emily Gordon, a visitor in town cashing traveler's checks, was shot and killed. No one saw who shot her. Despite security-camera photos and a letter from the group claiming responsibility, the perpetrators have r ...more
Hardcover, 291 pages
Published March 10th 2003 by Putnam Adult (first published 2003)
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Larry Edwards I disagree with your premise. I enjoyed it. Although his dominant use of passive voice gets on my nerves at times.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kemper
Spenser takes on a thirty twenty-eight year old case for the fee of six donuts. If he’d have known he’d end up investigating a bunch of goddamn hippies I assume he’d have demanded a full dozen.

Paul Giacomin, the closest thing Spenser has to a son, brings a young actress named Daryl to the detective for help. Daryl’s mother was killed in the midst of a bank robbery in 1974 by a group of militant radicals, but no one was ever arrested for the crime. Spenser takes on the case as a favor to Paul, an
...more
James Thane
A woman walks into Spenser's office and asks him to solve a twenty-eight year-old murder in return for a half dozen Krispy Kreme donuts. Sounds like a fair trade to me, and it certainly does to Spenser as well. Of course it helps that the client, Daryl Silver, is a friend of Spenser's surrogate son, Paul Giacomin.

Daryl's mother, Emily Gordon, was killed during the course of a bank robbery. Daryl insists that her mother was in the bank for perfectly legitimate and innocent reasons, "like cashing
...more
Jay Connor
Oct 24, 2012 Jay Connor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Revisiting a good novel from nearly a decade ago is like returning to a favorite restaurant. There’s a risk, but usually the reward is memories confirmed.

So too is Robert B. Parker’s “Back Story.” It has been nearly two years since this wonderful author has passed away. It seems like less time because he was prolific and had several novels in the pipeline. There are also two new incarnations with Ace Atkins taking Spenser forwarded (quite favorably, as reviewed here) and Michael Brandman breathi
...more
Cathy DuPont
Ok, it was ok. Liked it fine but nothing to write home about. Another one down in the Parker series.
Larry
Feb 07, 2016 Larry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 30th Spenser book is one of the better late Spensers. He is approached by Paul Giacomin (his almost adopted son) and a friend (an actress in Paul's latest play) to solve the murder of the friend's mother twenty-eight years earlier. The woman was shot during a bank robbery by a self-styled revolutionary group, but no one was ever apprehended, despite the group's public claims at the time.

What draws Spenser's immediate interest is that there is a suppressed FBI intelligence report on the grou
...more
Nicolas
I guess it's my own fault for jumping into a series at book 30, but it took me a while to get into this book. I read it mainly because Jesse Stone plays a small role in the story and I'm a big fan of Parker's Jesse Stone series. Because the Spenser universe has such a long and well-known history the author didn't take much time to introduce his characters. I figured it out as the book progressed, but I spent a lot of my time trying to keep the characters straight! In the end I think I liked it. ...more
Peggy
Jul 12, 2013 Peggy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mysteries, audio
Just finished this audio book. My first Robert B. Parker. Of course I saw the old TV show with Robert Urich years ago, but never got around to reading one of the books. I was surprised that I really enjoyed it! It was narrated by Joe Mantegna from Criminal Minds. He is Spencer to me now! They should re-do the TV show with him as the lead.

There was more foul language than I usually read, but not enough to 'spoil' it for me. The characters more than made up for it. I especially liked Hawk, the ho
...more
Jeff Yoak
I know that in addition to the Spenser series, Robert B. Parker has a series based on a character named Jesse Stone. I plan to tackle that series later. I imagine that this one might be one I want to revisit then, as I'm pretty sure Spenser and Hawk get to meet Jesse Stone in this novel and I got an initial taste of him. That sort of "worlds colliding" experience can be quite nice -- I just can't appreciate it yet. :-)

Generally, a strong and solid Spenser story.
Ray Mileur
Apr 12, 2012 Ray Mileur rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of Parkers, I prefer his Stone series ironically over his Spencer series, that said, I found Back Story to be one of the better books in the series, perhaps it's the 30 year old unsolved murder that hooked me into the story, I worked on and solved an 18 year old rape case once, so it's interesting to see something similiar in a novel.

Parker made it look easy, it wasn't and isn't, I miss him.
Joe Westfall
May 19, 2010 Joe Westfall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have determined to read all of Robert B. Parker's Spenser, Sunny, Jesse, Virgil/Everett novels before moving on to others. I have tried to read some newer stuff, but to be brutally honest, what makes the "Bestseller" list these days is a great deal of disappointment for the most part.

Parker doesn't disappoint.

This Spenser novel has more action than many I have read. Good book.
Marti
Apr 27, 2015 Marti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spenser is hired by a young woman for half a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts. We all know how much he loves donuts. Things get rather complicated after a while, and once again, other questionable gun slingers get hired (donuts?) to protect Susan. We have the introduction of Pearl II--will she fill the hole left behind by the original one?
Michael
Jul 23, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never read much of Parker's work before he passed away and feel like I really missed an engaging number of years to read them as they came out. Given that I have been thoroughly enjoying reading his work and look forward to finishing several more titles this year.
Steve
Jul 27, 2016 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great, dependable, Spenser novel. A lot of interaction with Hawk...always my favorite. This is the novel where Pearl II gets introduced.
Kit
Aug 13, 2015 Kit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentlyread
top notch Spenser, though it compares unfavorably to Higgins' treatment of similar ground in Outlaws.
Lou Harper
This book is okay, but not great. The usual gumshoe story elements are there but the writing is too choppy to bring them into a satisfying whole.
Una Tiers
While the characters are familiar, the plot seemed stale.
Brent Soderstrum
Dec 26, 2016 Brent Soderstrum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The big news in book #30 of the Spenser series by Robert B. Parker is the death of Pearl the Wonder Dog between book #29 and #30. Pearl wasn't getting along very well in the last book and at the beginning of this one we find out she left us. No worries though, Spenser and Susan get Pearl II.

The Back Story to Pearl's passing isn't too bad either. In fact it has a twist which I always enjoy.

Spenser is asked to investigate a murder that took place 28 years ago. Spenser's almost son Paul asks Spens
...more
Jim Thomas
Good but nothing special. I've yet to read a completely bad Parker novel. If you like Parker, recommended. If not a fan, start with one of his 1st dozen or so.
Gina
Dec 14, 2016 Gina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, audio
1.5 stars

Should not be experienced as an audiobook!
Maetta
Oct 13, 2016 Maetta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Spencer takes on a cold case gratis from the 70s. A woman's mom was murdered while in a bank by an unknown perp. Right away, he hits a wall. Even the FBI had been involved and the case was closed. Every time Spencer looked, he was shut out. That was a clue that something else was going on. As he digs deeper, the more questions he has and the stakes get higher. Great touch and go action!
Catherine Rose
The "Back Story" was from the 70's. Another great Robert B. Parker book.
Sandip K B
This is the first of Robert Parker I am reading and to be true to the word it was a quick breeze and nothing more.A concoction of Hollywood thrillers with little t offer in literary acumen.Would recommend to It to the starters of the genre.However the crux of the theme was seemingly lost with Daryl and the reason of the ride.
Michael
Aug 11, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert B. Parker books are highly enjoyable. I read my first one back in the Navy, and since then I think I've read about 20 of them. His main character--Spencer--is an intelligent good guy private detective in Boston who investigates crimes and missing persons and things like that. The dialogue is the best part of these books: Parker has honed his characters' speech to a fine edge. It is very entertaining, and often sprinkled with allusions to classic literature. There was also a brief televisi ...more
Johnsergeant
Jan 27, 2008 Johnsergeant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Downloaded from Audible.com

Narrator: Joe Mantegna
Publisher: Random House Audio, 2003
Length: 5 hours and 24 min.

Publisher's Summary
Spenser tries to solve a 30-year-old murder as a favor to an old friend in the brilliant new mystery from the Grand Master.

In 1974, a revolutionary group calling itself the Dread Scott Brigade held up the old Shawmut Bank in Boston's Audubon Circle. Money was stolen. And a woman named Emily Gordon, a visitor in town cashing traveler's checks, was shot and killed. No o
...more
Jerry
Mar 06, 2015 Jerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
We’d been wanting to read “Back Story” as somehow we learned it featured one of our favorite characters, Parker’s Jesse Stone, collaborating with Spenser, in this 30th entry in the 39-book original set. Unfortunately, Stone’s role was at best a couple of page cameo – but it did produce one glorious line of dialogue between the two, when Spenser says: “You don’t talk much” I said, “Do you.” “It’s an experiment,” Stone said, “If I got nothing to say, I try not to say it.”

We won’t claim this novel
...more
Charles
Jun 09, 2015 Charles rated it really liked it
A hardened private investigator is asked by a surrogate son to investigate the murder of the mother of his girlfriend that took place nearly thirty years ago. It appeared to be a random shooting, as it occurred when a bank was robbed by a seventies revolutionary group called the Dread Scott Brigade. The victim, a woman named Emily Gordon, was a visitor from out of town who was in the bank cashing travelers checks. At first, it appears hopeless, but as the detective starts chasing down the partic ...more
Jeff
I am never exceptionally impressed with Robert B. Parker's books. The Spenser series is entertaining enough, with some witty dialog. Hawk is always entertaining and the exploits of Spenser and Susan's dogs add a fun dimension as well. This time out Spenser is asked to look into a 28 year old murder (the 28 years makes a somewhat funny running gag). Along the way, Spenser crosses paths with an angry mobster, a psychotic enforcer, a modern day hippy stoner, and the other assorted characters. Spens ...more
LJ
Parker, Robert B – Back Story – VG
In 1974, a revolutionary group calling itself The Dread Scott Brigade held up the Old Shawmut Bank in Boston's Audubon Circle. Money was stolen. And a woman named Emily Gordon, a visitor in town cashing traveler's checks, was shot and killed. No one saw who shot her. Despite security-camera photos and a letter from the group claiming responsibility, the perpetrators have remained at large for nearly three decades. Enter Paul Giacomin, the closest thing to a son
...more
Roberta
Jan 23, 2015 Roberta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
I liked it fine but some of the earlier books in the series were better. If you haven't read any of the earlier books in the series, don't start with this one because you won't understand the relationship between Spenser, Suze, and Hawk. You need the back story...

When I read the books I'm still seeing and hearing Avery Brooks as Hawk. Not a bad thing.

I still hate Suze. In this one she and Spenser get a new dog to replace Pearl, name the new dog Pearl and are totally expecting to mold this new d
...more
David Linzee
This is a Spenser from late in the series, when the character was showing signs of fatigue, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Maybe because I haven't read a tough guy private eye--or any other type of private eye-in a while. The once-popular genre seems to have gone out of fashion. Or maybe because I've adjusted my expectations. With Spenser novels as with Bond movies, I'm not longer hoping for big surprises. I just want to watch the old guys going through their paces agai ...more
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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.
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Other Books in the Series

Spenser (1 - 10 of 45 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)

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“called Evan Malone at the number Epstein had given me and got his wife, and made an appointment to come up to his place on Bow Lake to talk with him. On the drive up Route 93, I called Epstein on the cell phone.” 1 likes
“Hawk and I lay behind the rock” 1 likes
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