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Promised Land (Spenser #4)

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  4,693 Ratings  ·  250 Reviews
Spenser is a wisecracking former boxer turned private investigator and he is just settling into his new office when enters Harv Shepard, a beleaguered businessman who is looking for someone to help locate his runaway wife. So begins Promised Land, the fourth novel by Robert Parker, that follows the exploits of his cerebral but tough character, detective Spenser. Why Harv S ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published September 1976)
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Bill  Kerwin
Jan 10, 2008 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In this fourth novel of the series, Harvey Shepherd hires Spenser to track down his wandering wife Pam, who has left her husband and children to discover herself. When Spenser finds her she is living with a pair of revolutionary feminists, and does not wish to return, so he promises not to tell Harvey where she is staying. Soon, though, both the Shepherds want his help: Pam is in trouble, for the revolutionary feminists have proved to be militant and dangerous, and Harvey, who owes a loan shark
Jul 02, 2008 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“ ‘And Hawk beat you up.'

‘Yeah. Actually, he didn’t do it himself. He had two guys do it, and he, like, supervised.’

‘Hawk’s moving up. Executive level. He was always a comer.’

‘He said he just does the killing now, the sweaty work, he delegates.’”

Spenser has been hired by a real estate developer named Harvey Shepherd whose wife Pam has run off. Like most of Spenser's clients, Harvey is kind of a self-absorbed dumbass, but he does genuinely love his wife. Spenser quickly determines that Pam had fo
I like it a lot more when Spenser just gets to do his thing without his lady friend tagging along, constantly asking him What It All Means. As squicky as it was when he was, say, sleeping with both the mother & daughter of his client, I sort of miss those days. Maybe I can read these books with one hand over my eye to cover Susan. But, hey, Hawk was here so I suppose it wasn't all bad.
Dan Schwent
Aug 28, 2010 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Spenser gets hired to track down a business man's missing wife. His search for the wife leads him to a group of militant feminists and he quickly discovers the husband is in debt to a local loan shark, King Powers. Can Spenser get the couple back together without being gunned down by the King?

This is the fourth Spenser book I've read and my favorite so far. Spenser's inner nature is explored, his relationship with Susan Silverman progresses, he passes up some easy tail for once, and he runs into
Jane Stewart
Jul 20, 2013 Jane Stewart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pi-mystery
It was good. I chuckled periodically. I like the way Spenser talks and thinks.

This was my first Parker book. It’s number 4 in the Spenser series. It’s typical first person private eye solving a typical mystery with a happy ending. It’s not a wow kind of book, but I enjoyed it. It has good characters and good dialogue. This author is different due to his sense of humor. He says unexpected things.

The ending was weak. In the spoiler I am not giving away the main mysteries.

(view spoiler)
Mar 24, 2008 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the fourth installment of the Spenser series, Spenser is hired to find a man's wife. When he finds her and discovers she doesn't want her husband to know where she is, Spenser obliges. But the case doesn't stop there. The husband is in trouble with a loan shark and the wife has taken up with some shady fanatical women. Spenser has to try to save them both. Hawk is introduced in this novel.

I absolutely LOVE Robert Parker's Spenser. He's a complex character with many conflicting characteristics
Read again 05/04/15 for Maze mystery group.

The first time I read this book I was enthusiastically reading all of the Spenser books in order. Unfortunately Parker was writing faster than I was reading them and I've never finished the entire Spenser series. This time I read the book having just read "The Big Sleep" by Raymond Chandler and you can certainly see the debt Parker owes to Chandler.

Parker is writing about the hard-boiled detective now set in the 1970s. The knight-detective is learning
Jan 16, 2011 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second or third Spenser title for me, and they're generally a fun read. Descriptions of the Boston locale stands out since my wife's folks are from there. This plot felt a little dated with the women's libbers, but I liked the introduction of Hawk. As time allows, I'll read deeper into the Spenser series.
Nov 25, 2016 Hana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2016-reads
Spenser mystery number 4 didn't do it for me. A weird story line with radical feminists looking to buy guns. I know the seventies were strange, but still....Also, lots of relationship angst and tiresome group therapy sessions. A dull denouement with not much action. Meeting Hawk was the one redeeming feature.
Neil Carstairs
May 08, 2017 Neil Carstairs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m back in Spenser territory after a gap of a couple of decades to see how they have survived the test of time. And the answer is pretty-well although I’m not sure whether people who have grown up with Google and smartphones will understand telephone message services and the time it takes to find out information in the non-digital age (the book was first published in 1976). This is probably why the story is padded out with philosophical discussions between Spenser and Susan Silverman along with ...more
Mar 09, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m from an generation for whom Avery Brooks is best known for playing Captain Sisco of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. For another generation, and a different set of genre fans, he is perhaps better known for his 65 episode run as Hawk, PI Spenser’s sometime companion (who even had his own short lived series A Man Called Hawk), in the TV’s Spenser for Hire. Hawk, though present in Promised Land, makes a fairly limited (and first) appearance; though it is an appearance the certainly leaves an impres ...more
Mar 04, 2017 Gary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
very interesting how Parker had so few different scenes actually but kept the story moving as the characters revealed more and more of themselves in chapters of dialogue. I enjoyed the first 3 in the series more than this one, but still enjoyed it.
Tracey Sinclair
Slightly dated, but a slick, easy read.
Jan 26, 2017 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
Spenser, Spenser, Spenser, when will you learn to be more careful? When there's a bad guy around and a helpless woman, Spenser's defenses come to the fore and voila, bad guy is vanquished once again, at least we hope so.

In this case, Spenser is hired to find Harvey Shepard's wife, Pam. Without any explanation, Pam disappeared, leaving her children behind. Harvey is inconsolable, he loves his wife, he really, really loves his wife and he just doesn't understand and he also doesn't know where to s
Jun 19, 2016 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
original 2009 review - The first Spenser novel I ever picked up (back in the late 80s), this seemed like an ideal book to dip back into the series with. It’s been a long time since I last read it and I’d forgotten just how tight a writer Parker could be, with dialogue that literally zings along and the occasional, beautifully observed moment. This has a lot to offer - clever plot, great characters, a keen sense of location and atmosphere - and even though it’s over 30 years old, it’s only very m ...more
Jeff Miller
Sep 07, 2011 Jeff Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never read on of the Spenser books before, but this one was free.

As the forth book in the series it read to me much like it was the first book in the series since it introduces the character Hawk. My only introduction to Spenser before was the TV series - which I really enjoyed.

This novel won the Edgar award in 1977, a fact I am not surprised at. Not a long book, but one that is gripping from beginning to end and not just for the suspense. Spenser goes to search for a wife who appeared to have j
Brent Soderstrum
This started out a little slow with Spenser searching for a missing wife but ended up with loan sharks, women's libbers gone violent, illegal gun sales and a nice wrap up where the bad guys get arrested and a marriage is restored...or is it.

Harvey Shepard's idea of a perfect husband is to make lots of money and sacrifice for his wife Pam. Pam, on the other hand, has radical women's lib ideas flowing through her head. The time period is 1976 and Pam doesn't want to be a housewife and mom anymore.
Aug 13, 2009 Genie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fourth book in Spenser is initially hired to find a runaway wife. He finds the woman who has become involved with a group of reactionaries and has no idea how to untangle herself. As Spenser is trying to come up with a way out for her, he ends up involved in bailing her husband out of a messy situation of his own. The main plot turns out to be a calculated maneuvering to allow the “killing two birds with one stone” principle to work. Aside from the case, we begin to see Spenser's relationshi ...more
Jeff Yoak
This series really comes into its own with Promised Land. It has the strongest plot I've seen in the series so far and was gripping from beginning to end. I've been impatiently waiting for the introduction of Hawk as a character, with vague recollections of his being one of the better parts of the TV show, Spenser for Hire. While the character at first seems quite different from my vague memories, he's a delightful character nonetheless. Further, the author is starting show some of the thought-p ...more
Craig Coleman
I first read many of the Spenser series over a decade ago. This time I went farther back in time to one of the first books. Susan Silverman is a guidance counselor -- in future books she gets her doctorate and becomes a psychologist.

The reason I read many of these books is due to their exploration of themes. Promised Land is set in the 1970s during the awakening of feminism, and looks at the phenomenon from various angles. This was always Robert B. Parker's strength; his detective novels were ne
Sep 12, 2009 Larry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On rereading, the fourth Spenser book proved to be what I remembered: a strong addition to the p.i. shelf. Spenser had a tougher edge then. Hawk was still a wary opponent,not a sidekick. Susan, newly arrived, was still engaged in figuring out who Spenser was, not in being an irritating voice for his softer side. (Her attempt to figure out the differences and similarities between Spenser and Hawk were still fresh, and meaningful.) Spenser's social observations were more biting. And the sense of a ...more
Boulder Boulderson
One of the earlier Spenser novels. The plot and pacing isn't as good as the later books, but the first introduction to Hawk is nice to see and baby Spenser fumbling his way through a case is always entertaining. The involvement of the radical feminists was rather strange a left-field, presumably linked to some current events in the US in the mid-70s, and also to Spenser's ongoing examination of himself as a man and the roles of men and women.

Definitely a recommended read, for fans of the Great A
Mar 01, 2015 Marti rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a little more strange. I didn't feel as connected to it as I had to the previous ones. He finds a place for a neglected woman to stay, and helps her husband, who is in financial straits. Susan Silverman plays a good sized role in this one, as they discuss whether or not they should get married. Hawk is also a character--not appreciated by the husband, since he pushes the young son.
Dec 22, 2011 Ensiform rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
The fourth Spenser novel. Spenser finds a missing wife and is caught between a militant feminist cult and a vicious mobster. The wittiest in the series yet; Spenser's erudite and self-deprecating humor is a real plus. But at times the tone's quite simplistic or preachy ("You man haters who don't understand the world..."). Worse, Spenser's too much of a super hero for me. He’s smart, he kicks everyone's ass, his stunning girlfriend eats lobster without getting butter on her lips, etc etc.
A good Spenser mystery. I do enjoy the smart aleck PI.
One thing I have noticed in his books, Parker is obsessed with food.
Other authors will say "They went to dinner at such and such a place" but Parker describes everything they eat and drink. I'd noticed it before, but it seemed like a lot of eating in this one, makes you hungry!
Nov 12, 2011 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spenser
Spenser - the tough/well read/wisecracking P.I., is always an enjoyable quick read. The dialouge is simple, and Spenser working to solve the case, is always going out of his way to help out the poor souls that got in the jam. This being the fourth, is when we meet Hawk. Having read a couple later in the series, a great addition to the series.
Spenser gets caught up in a tangled web of an unhappy family and their desperate measures. Not the best, a bit too fraught for me. I think there are definitely some cultural era things i struggled with, might have been more pertinent in the 70s but what can you do? still a great series
James Kiester
Dec 18, 2009 James Kiester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Spenser fans
This is a landmark book in the series, simply because it's the first time readers meet Hawk, who serves as Spenser's sidekick for most of the series. However, they begin as enemies who respect each other more than they respect their individual employers.
Doranna Durgin
Jan 21, 2013 Doranna Durgin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book covers a lot of new territory for the series--relationships, the introduction of Hawk (love me some Hawk!) It's a gleeful upping of the ante...and gives me reason to keep right on rereading an old favorite...
Sep 29, 2014 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked Re-reading this. Watching cast grow was part of the 'catch' in RBP fan base. Nicely plotted, light language, no gore. Well read by Michael Pritchard. Recommended.
© 1976
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Goodreads Librari...: eBook edition needs a cover please 2 14 Sep 08, 2016 07:39PM  
Mansfield Public ...: The"Promised Land" review by Suzanne Dowling 1 1 Aug 05, 2014 11:53AM  
  • Robert B. Parker's Wonderland (Spenser, #41)
  • Poodle Springs
  • Out on the Cutting Edge (Matthew Scudder, #7)
  • Cinnamon Skin (Travis McGee #20)
  • Robert B. Parker's Damned If You Do (Jesse Stone, #12)
  • Three for the Chair (Nero Wolfe, #28)
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 45 books)
  • The Godwulf Manuscript (Spenser, #1)
  • God Save The Child (Spenser, #2)
  • Mortal Stakes (Spenser, #3)
  • 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)
  • Valediction (Spenser, #11)

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“I try to be honorable. I know that's embarrassing to hear. It's embarrassing to say. But I believe most of the nonsense that Thoreau was preaching. And I have spent a long time working on getting myself to where I could do it. Where I could live life largely on my own terms.” 2 likes
“...What is it," Pam Shepard said, "about a cluster of skyscrapers in the distance that makes you feel...What?...Romantic? Melancholy? Excited? Excited probably."
"Promise," I said.
"Of what?"
"Of everything," I said. "From a distance they promise everything, whatever you're after. They look clean and permanent against the sky like that. Up close you notice dog litter around the foundations."
"Are you saying it's not real? The look of skyscapers from a distance."
"No. It's real enough, I think. But so is the dog litter and if you spend all your time looking at the spires you're going to step in it."
"Into each life some shit must fall?"
"Ah," I said, "you put it so much more gracefully than I.”
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