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(Spenser #9)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  5,650 ratings  ·  226 reviews
Pretty teenager April Kyle is in grown-up-trouble, involved with people who'd beat her up for a dollar and kill her for five. Now she's disappeared, last seen in the Combat Zone, that side of Boston where nothing's proper, especially the sex for sale.

With Hawk, his sidekick, Spenser takes on the whole X-rated industry. From a specialty whorehouse in Providence to stylish

Hardcover, 182 pages
Published 1982 by Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence
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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,650 ratings  ·  226 reviews

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Bobby Underwood
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because they’re quick reads between more serious books — even more serious detectives, such as Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer — I thought I’d revisit Ceremony, the beginning of the April Kyle saga from the Spenser series. It is interesting for not only its moral dilemma, but for a bridge between the early Spenser novels and later Spenser entries. Ceremony is where Spenser first meets teenager April Kyle, and her plight will resonate throughout the series.

This book came after Rachel Wallace, but bef
Bill  Kerwin
May 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is one of my favorite Spenser novels, because in it the detective accomplishes two things which Parker writes about with an extraordinary combination of sympathy and cleverness: Spencer saves a troubled young person trapped in a world of vicious adults, and he does so by devising an unorthodox solution to an otherwise unsolvable moral dilemma. Early Autumn was such a book, and may be Parker’s masterpiece; Ceremony is very much like it and almost as good.

Teenager April Kyle has left home, an
Dan Schwent
May 24, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
When a troubled teenager named April Kyle is seen hooking in Boston, her parents want her brought back. While Spenser won't work for the father at any price, he takes the case for the princely sum of one dollar from April's mother. Spenser, Hawk, and Susan soon find themselves caught in a web of underage prostitution and pornography. But what do you do when a runaway prostitute doesn't want to come back home?

After reading the most recent Ace Atkins Spenser book, I decided it was time to fill in
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spenser, Hawk and Susan get to crash a house party in this one. Hilarity ensues.

High school guidance counselor Susan is worried about April Kyle, a troubled drop-out type of kid who has run off from her parents. She asks Spenser to talk to them about finding her, but April’s dad has seen his daughter hooking in Boston’s infamous Combat Zone. Now he’s pulling a my-daughter-is-a-whore-and-not welcome-in-my-house routine. Spenser refuses to work for him but takes a dollar from his wife to find Apri
Jason Koivu
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime, detective
Nine books in and I still haven't tired of reading about Boston-area spots named-dropped in Parker's long-running Spenser series. Maybe it's a low-fever homesickness, a nostalgia for the 70s/80s era Massachusetts I was born and raised in, which is where and when this series got its start.
Brian Poole
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ceremony, hailing from the early ‘80s, was one of the more morally murky entries in Robert B. Parker’s long Spenser series.

At the behest of girlfriend Susan Silverman, Spenser undertakes to find runaway teen April Kyle, a student from the high school where Susan works. April’s fled her cushy suburban existence for a life of inner city prostitution. Spenser’s pursuit of April puts him, Susan and their formidable ally Hawk into the path of a much larger, and deadlier, network of sex crimes. And as
Richard Brand
It is early Spenser. Susan is still teaching school. Spenser has an MG. There is no dog. It is a wild finish with a lot of hit, punching, kneeing, biting and kicking at the end. It is teenage prostitution and missing girls. It was a quick and fun read after a more gross book I had just finished. Hawk is still there and his FBI and Boston cops are still with him
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one is terrific with Robert B. Parker and Spenser at their best. A quick and extremely enjoyable read...too bad it had to end so soon! Spenser is asked to meet with the parents of a runaway teenage girl and finds the father couldn't care less what happens and the mother is just trying to keep everyone happy. Spenser takes this case for one dollar. Find April Kyle...find her fast. His search leads him to the Combat Zone...Boston's other side. Prostitutes, pimps, drugs, lost teenage girls and ...more
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(The word "maroon" appears 7 times in this novel)

3.5 stars

A trip into Boston's "Combat Zone" red-light district is disturbing and agonising, but Parker pulls his punches mostly here, understandably.

Spenser's reaction to them is muted, not poignant. The hero inside him does want to help all these unfortunate victims, and he needs Susan to be his anchor again, to good effect.

The final fight scene is chaotic, hard to follow, and rather unsatisfying. Hawk does his stuff again, and again without much
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books-read
I finished this book in two afternoons. I really enjoy books by Rober B. Parker. His writing style is simliar to Dashiell Hammet and Raymod Chandler. They all include the hard-boiled detective trying to solve a case. The stories are easy to follow plots but it is driven by great dialogue - smart, humourous and lots of attitude. A great way to spend a couple afternoons.
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the Spenser TV series. Incredibly glad that it's finally out on DVD. I thought I'd give the books a try. I had read the first in the series, "The Godwulf Manuscript" some time ago and, although I enjoyed it, it wasn't what I thought.
This one, however, was right on the money. Great Spenser story.
A real hard-boiled detective story. As a fan of Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler, I certainly but this in the same category as Sam Spade and Phillip Marlow.
I'll certainly be reading more.
Maureen DeLuca
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Number 9 in the series (which I am reading in order) if you like good old fashion detective PI stories, you will like this series very much... Robert B. Parker is one of a kind and very much missed. So far, all of the Spenser series books are very fun, and fast reads....... and I just love when Hawk is in the stories!
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of the time, these books are cozies, and just a few pages of violence and sex keep them from being cozies all the time. A soft-boiled detective? No, sunny side up.
Del Johnstone
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
One of the darker entries in the Spenser series, this one leaves a slightly sour taste, for the subject matter. Spenser is persuaded by Susan Silverman to look for teenager April Kyle, who has rebelled against parents (who feel like dysfunctional cardboard cutouts, and are barely mentioned again after the first chapter). April is turning tricks in the Combat Zone, Boston's sleaze alley. Old Spenser has to get himself dirty here, slumming it with the very worst that humanity has to offer; on the ...more
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have just completed another Robert B. Parker book: "Ceremony." While I enjoy Mr. Parker's storytelling, the ending, which I do not wish to give away, disturbed me.

Despite my opinion on the ending, I still give it 4 stars. Mr. Parker, as the author, is an excellent storyteller, and the one who creates the ending for his book: here, Spenser must come up with a quick solution to save a young girl from the jaws of a low-line prostitution ring - a girl who does not want to go back to the safety of
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spenser
Spenser is looking for a runaway teenage girl, that doesn't want to go back home, to her dad that don't want her back. Might ruin his image as a successful business man, because she's turning tricks.
Our tough and funny PI, gets an up close and personal look into child porn. He isn't joking around much, walking around in the Combat Zone, where the sex for sale is everywhere. Another fine early Spenser & Hawk tale.
Apr 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spenser is hired to find and bring back an errant daughter of a privileged couple.
Teena in Toronto
Spenser is a private detective in Boston and has been hired by the Kyles to find their missing teenage daughter, April, who they suspect is working as a prostitute. Spenser finds April and she is indeed working as a prostitute. Though Spenser isn't making her go home, she takes off from him. As Spenser keeps digging, he discovers the person of influence behind providing teenage girls for prostitution and also the making of porno movies and he is determined to shut him down.

This is the ninth in t
Paula Dembeck
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
April Kyle is a young teenager about to graduate from high school but two weeks ago dropped out of school and has run away from home. April’s mother Bunni Kyle has contacted Susan Silverman the guidance counsellor at April’s school for help. She desperately wants her daughter home. Spenser and Susan are at the Kyle's suburban home and April’s father Harry tells Susan he has seen his daughter in the rough Combat Zone in Boston with an older man and believes she is working as a prostitute. He is l ...more
Michael Swanson
Another solid entry in the Spenser series. The subject matter and how it is managed may be offensive to today's audiences.
Carole Hardinge
It was hard to get past how dated this book was, but I still enjoyed Spenser and Hawk and how they problem solved. Interesting ending.
Cathy DuPont
Dec 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Yipee!!! Both Hawk and Susan are back and I hope don't leave anytime soon in upcoming books. For me, they both just make Spenser more interesting and I love their banter, all of it. Gives Spenser come challenges in how he looks at life.

Should have know it was about children some how, some way, due to the cover; a Teddy bear with money stuffed in shirt. The subject, child prostitution, was a new and different subject for Parker and certainly a hot topic even today, almost 30 years since first pub
Brent Soderstrum
This is the 9th book from Parker's Spenser series. This one deals with teenage prostitution. Scary to think this stuff really happens. Spenser is "hired" by April's parents to find her and bring her home. April is a 16 year old drop out who is hooking in the Combat Zone, which is a raunchy, dumpy section of Boston where almost anything goes.

Susan, Spenser's girlfriend, has talked Spenser into taking the assignment even though he can't stand April's father. Spenser takes a dollar from April's mom
Gerald Sinstadt
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Ceremony is ninth in the Spenser series. Dedicated students will be interested to see notable changes since we began with The Godulf Manuscript. Susan Silverman is established by now but she is still not in independent practice. There are clues to Hawk's origins.

The plot is a variation on a familiar Parker theme - a teenaged girl is missing, Spenser is hire to find her and bring her back to unloving patents. Violence erupts frequently. The dialogue is smart and often amusing. These are ingredien
This is the 9th book in the Spenser series by Robert B. Parker. I confess, I used to watch the T.V. show with the late, great Robert Urich as Spenser and Avery Brooks as Hawk. I say this, because as I am reading this book I am hearing/seeing Robert Urich and Avery Brooks in my mind. It made the story even more "alive" than usual. This story deals with the "seedier" side of Boston, mainly whoring. So, if you like less "real" mystery/crime novels, then this is not one for you. The main character i ...more
Jane Stewart
2 stars. My mind wandered a lot, but it might have been other things going on in my life - not sure.

If you’re new to the series and just want to read some, skip this one. It’s not a lot of muscle and wit. It’s mostly Spenser trying to find a teenage girl who runs away from home and does not want to be rescued.

The narrator Michael Prichard was very good.

This is book #9 in the Spenser series.
Narrative mode: 1st person Spenser. Unabridged audiobook length: 4 hrs and 31 mins (224-228 pages). S
Teenage prostitution, hypocrisy and tough choices dominate this excellent mystery. It feels like Chapter One of a bigger story, and adds some more depth to this ongoing portrait of this one-named sleuth.
Mar 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fine tale from Parker about the philosophic, hard-fisted Spenser, pal Hawk, and love interest Susan. He's coerced into looking for a problem teen in Boston and the unsavory people taking advantage of her.
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great as always, this one has Hawk in it which is always a huge plus!!
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review is for Ceremony (also known as Ceremony for a Fat Lip), but it actually covers my entire Robert B. Parker stack of books which I reread recently when I got a flu and sinus infection which kept me supine for a while. Here is my stack of Parker books, in order reread, which is the same as the order published: God Save The Child, The Judas Goat, Ceremony, The Widening Gyre, Validiction, A Catskill Eagle, Taming A Sea-Horse. Would have liked to have reread Looking for Rachel Wallace, Ear ...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.

Other books in the series

Spenser (1 - 10 of 47 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)
  • The Widening Gyre (Spenser, #10)
  • Valediction (Spenser, #11)
“We split a bottle of Norman cider. Not everybody sells Norman cider by the bottle.
"Has a European feel" Susan said.
"That sounds terrific" I said. "Can I have one?"
Susan grinned at me. "How did you ever get to be so big without growing up?" she said.
"Iron self-control" I said.”
“I can’t put the profession ahead of the people it’s supposed to serve,” Susan said. “It would be like teachers who care more about education than students.” 0 likes
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