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Back Story (Spenser #30)

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  3,349 ratings  ·  180 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.
Paperback, 324 pages
Published January 11th 2003 by Oldcastle Books (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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, a
...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
Cathy DuPont
Ok, it was ok. Liked it fine but nothing to write home about. Another one down in the Parker series.
Jay Connor
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
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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
Marti
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?
Peggy
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
Kit
top notch Spenser, though it compares unfavorably to Higgins' treatment of similar ground in Outlaws.
Una Tiers
While the characters are familiar, the plot seemed stale.
Charles
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
Roberta
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
Dave
Somehow I missed this one, but now I think I've read all of the Spenser novels--at least the ones by Robert Parker, and not his estate. This one is not much better or worse than most others from his last ten years or so. It's very easy to read, almost all dialogue, full of comfortably witty characters--nearly everyone from both coasts, including Jesse Stone, is in this one. No sense of urgency here. There's more a sense of pleasant routine, like a baseball game, or a crossword puzzle, or paintin ...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
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
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.
Tim Healy
This may be the best of the "later period" Spenser novels that I've read. It holds together quite nicely, and is perhaps the most tightly plotted of them, too. I won't give it away, here, as I think it's nicer to get that on your own. I know that Susan annoys some long-time Spenser readers. I've never really understood that. She's here, and she's a tangential part of the plot. I suggest getting past it. More interestingly to me, of course, is that Hawk is also here. As always, there's some great ...more
Michael
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.
Jerry
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
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.
Richard
You don't want to read "War and Peace" on a plane, especially if you've never read it. I usually read a Robert B. Parker "Spencer" novel. They're easy, fast-paced, mostly snappy dialogue, and you know what to expect. It's an opportunity for your mind to travel a familiar path away from the sardine-like conditions of an airplane. The New York Daily News wrote on the front cover of my paperback, "Spencer's back, just the way we like him." That fits this novel to a T. I also have to be impressed by ...more
Aimee
It's been quite a few years since I've read a Robert B Parker book and I' forgotten just how good he was. He was a master at dialogue and the exchanges between Spenser and Hawk - or Spenser and anyone - never disappoint.

This time I chose the audio book, read by Joe Mantegna. He was perfect and his transitions between Spenser, Hawk, Susan and various good guys and bad guys were all fantastic.

This novel featured a crossover with another Parker character, Jesse Stone. I'm new to him and may need
...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
Larry
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. There is a suppressed FBI intelligence report on the group that not even Spenser's law enforcement friend ...more
Michael
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
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
Johnsergeant
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
Metagion
September, 1974. A time for "radicalization," protest, and striking out against "The Esablishment." In Boston a radical group attempts to rob a bank and a young woman dies in the commission of said crime. Fast forward 28 years later. Spenser is introduced to a lovely lady who is an actress of a travelling group that his foster-son Paul had put together. She wants to know: who killed my mother, and why? Spenser, along with Hawk (his best friend/hired muscle/fellow boxing enthusiast) has to travel ...more
Matthew Bloom
When I started reading this book, I wasn't sure what I was in for, if it would be good or bad, and this book definitely didn't disappoint. I love how the story plot would change from one chapter to the next; I was not disappointed with any parts of the book. I have yet to finish, but I will definitely be finishing this book soon. I would recommend this book to anyone of mature age, due to the foul language, and to anyone interested in plot-twisting books.
Joe Reto
Second book I have read by Parker in last year. It's a quick read and a good story about the dangers of being a private detective. The end surprised me because although PI Spenser solved the murder nobody paid its consequences. The story was a puzzle about who did the crime until the book is about 90% complete. At the end of the story the murder is understandable and the compromise Spenser reaches with the thug is clear too. Sometimes leaving well enough alone is the right thing to do.
Dee
Spenser, having just got paid very well for a previous job has a friend bring in a young lady, Daryl, who would like to find her mother's murderer. Mom was murdered 28 years before! She pays him in Krispy Kremes. As Spenser searches for info, finding missing files, uncovering subterfuge, he finds this search very risky and he finds info that Daryl doesn't want to know, but now we have to finalize the issues just to stay alive!
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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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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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“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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