James Thane's Reviews > Painted Ladies

Painted Ladies by Robert B. Parker
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Jun 02, 2012

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bookshelves: crime-fiction, spenser
Read in June, 2012

For many years, I've been a fan of Robert B. Parker's Spenser series, and even though many of the later books in the series do not measure up to the standards that Parker set earlier, I've still enjoyed most of them. Parker died a couple of years ago, and I've been reluctant to read Painted Ladies and Sixkill, which are the last two book in the series, because it's like saying goodbye to an old friend. But I finally pulled Painted Ladies off the shelf and read it this week.

Like many of the later entries in the series, the plot is fairly thin and serves mostly as a framework for a lot of witty banter between Spenser and the other characters. Sadly, Spenser's long-time sidekick, Hawk, is again MIA. Even more sadly, Spenser's long-time lover, Susan Silverman is not.

The story opens when an art historian with the improbable name of Ashton Prince approaches Spenser asking for protection. Prince has been selected as the go-between in the return of a priceless painting that has been stolen and is being ransomed back by the museum to which it belongs. Prince wants Spenser to accompany him to the exchange.

Things do not go well and, through no fault of Spenser's, his client is killed. Though Spenser has fulfilled his end of the bargain and no longer has a client, the PI's code demands that he avenge Prince's death and bring the bad guys to justice. His investigation leads him into a world of art theft and fraud, and it quickly becomes apparent that Spenser's client might not have been quite what he claimed, which of course the reader knew well would be the case when Prince first walked through Spenser's door.

As things progress, Spenser's own life is threatened--something that has happened pretty routinely in each of the thirty-eight books that preceded this one. As always, Spenser is unfazed by this and will deal with the bad guys as they come. In and around the investigation, Spenser will cook a good number of meals and share way too many tender, icky moments with Susan, a woman only Spenser could love.

All it's a quick, fun read and those who have followed this series from the beginning will know exactly what to expect. Those who have not and who are thinking about dipping into this series for the first time, would be much better advised to read one of the earlier books like The Godwulf Manuscript or Early Autumn.
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02/19 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Randy Agree that most of the latter entries didn't measure up. I still enjoyed them, visiting with old friends you know. SIXKILL was better, though still not close to those at the beginning.

I've read a great review of Atkins' take on Spenser. I had intended to not pick up the new Spensers and the Jesse Stones and read fine reviews of both(I have read the Stone book and thought Brandman caught Parker's voice nicely, though others disagree).

James Thane As much as I like Ace Atkins, I'm not going to be reading any Spensers that weren't written by RBP. I've never been comfortable with the idea of one writer taking over another's characters.

message 3: by Kurt (new)

Kurt Reichenbaugh So what happened to Hawk? I didn't know he's been missing in the last few. Oh and I agree regarding another writer taking over the characters. Then it's kind of like Mack Bolan thing going on.

James Thane Basically, Parker started writing a lot of thin plots that really didn't need Hawk and so he kept going off to places like Southeast Asia while Spenser made goggle eyes at Susan for thirty percent of each book.

message 5: by Kurt (new)

Kurt Reichenbaugh James wrote: "Basically, Parker started writing a lot of thin plots that really didn't need Hawk and so he kept going off to places like Southeast Asia while Spenser made goggle eyes at Susan for thirty percent ..."

Oh, God...It must be like in high school, when you bud gets a girlfriend and goes completely wuss over her...No wonder Hawk took off.

James Thane Exactly!

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