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(Spenser #18)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  4,409 ratings  ·  173 reviews
Pastime is a startling game of memory, desire, and danger that forces Spenser to face his own past. Ten years ago, he saved a teenage boy from a father's rage. Now, on the brink of manhood, the boy seeks answers to his mother's sudden disapearance. Spenser is the only man he can turn to.
This time, it's more than a routine search for a missing person--Spenser must search
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 1st 1992 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published 1991)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  4,409 ratings  ·  173 reviews

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Bobby Underwood
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
It had been a long spell since I’d read this entry in the Spenser canon, and while there are some great things about it, I found it less appealing this time around. The highlight, of course, is the expanding role of Vinnie in the Spenser world. Circumstances allow him to shift from being the dangerous right hand of Joe Broz, to the dangerous anti-hero when those circumstances force him to finally make the break from the gangster who has been almost like a father to him. It is the “almost” that ...more
Bill Kerwin
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it

This unique novel in the series offers special pleasures for the Spenser fan. In it, we are privileged to receive rare glimpses into Spenser’s past: his mother’s death in childbirth, his upbringing (by his father and two uncles), how he learned to cook, how he met Hawk (an opponent in the prizefighting ring), and a wonderful story about how he, and his first dog named Pearl, faced down a hostile black bear.

All this nostalgia has its origin in Spenser’s current case. Paul Giacomin—the neglected
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
If the Spenser books were a comic series, the cover on this one would say something like: AT LAST! SPENSER’S SECRET ORIGIN REVEALED!

Back in Early Autumn, Spenser helped a teenage boy named Paul gain a measure of independence and control over his own life and in the process became his surrogate father. Paul is now twenty-five and had been trying to resolve some of the issues with his mother, Patty, but when she suddenly disappears Paul asks Spenser for help in locating her.

Spenser and Paul figure
(The word "maroon" appears 7 times in this novel)

I was appalled at the first chapter, so saccharin sweet and twee, silly, almost baby talk. Authors must remember we are not their babies or their pets. Chapters 1-6 are very poor, dull, no plot advancement at all. Skip them if you want.

The rest of the book is fine but not special. Reasonable plot.

Spenser and Susan have stablised for now.

Modest snappiness in dialogue.
Kurt Dinan
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorites, but possibly a little too much of Spenser wandering in the woods.
Nov 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Robert B Parker must have fallen in love or had something really emotional happen in is life which would cause him to write this book. This was a good one, however, it wasn't like the other books. Paul appears in this one. His mother has disappeared and he asks Spenser to help find her. The mob is involved and the search becomes really tricky and dangerous for Spenser.
Susan's ex-husband has given Susan his dog Pearl. Pearl has befriended Spenser and accompanies him wherever he goes.
Hawk makes
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
The 18th in the Spenser series. A search for a missing mother ties in with the local gangsters, with a side trip down memory lane to Spenser's roots.
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. The description of the woods as Spenser fights for his life, the unerring loyalty he feels for Paul, and the way Spenser lets Paul be himself as he grows into his adulthood were absolutely all they needed to be. In this story, Spenser is totally himself and self-reliant but still he needs Susan and what their relationship has to offer - not to be himself but to complete himself.

I never tire of this series or any of Mr. Parker's stories. He was a wonderful writer,
Paula Dembeck
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In this addition to the series, Parker pulls a few narrative threads from the past to present a case which explores the meaning of family and the complicated relationships which define it.

Back in the novel titled Early Autumn (1980), readers were introduced to fifteen year old Paul Giacomin, a young boy caught in the middle of an ugly feud between his divorcing parents, neither of who cared for him. Spenser took him away from that discouraging environment, gave him shelter and helped him
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is likely the most revealing of the Spenser novels, we not only learn a great deal about his childhood, but also discover that not even Susan knows much about his past. We learn that Spenser grew up in an all-male household by men that did not have a lot of formal education but appreciated it more than most in that situation.
We also learn about the hunter’s code when Spenser recounts the encounter that he and his father had with a bear while hunting birds. It was a father-son bonding
Michael McCue
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the 18th Spenser mystery by Robert Parker problems are somewhat solved and the bad guys are sort of defeated. Paul Giacomin, who is the closest thing Spenser has to a son, arrives with a problem. His mother has disappeared. Spenser does not like Patty, Paul's mother, at all. Ten years before Paul was in the middle of a big divorce fight between his parents. Spenser rescued him from his parents and gave Paul the parenting that he would never get otherwise. Patty, who is never without a man, ...more
Scott A. Miller
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Paul G. got to headline this one, and Gerry Broz. The main crew were supporting cast. It was very good. Spenser really showed compassion and self control at the end. I’m not sure it won’t come back to haunt him. Pearl is the newest member of the family. The fact that Spenser is a dog lover makes him even more likable.
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Parker has a knack of telling sometimes great stories about Spenser and Hawk and Paul and Joe and Vinnie and others, with atmosphere and deep character, without that nagging suspense but rather with such confidence that you can enjoy the chase.
Carolyn (in SC) C234D
This Spenser novel covers his growing up, giving some background. He’s trying to find a young man’s mother, who has apparently taken off with her boyfriend.
I read it more than fourteen years ago and don’t really remember any details. At the time I rated it 8 out of 10.
Redwan Hasan
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Another disappointing book. I was here for a detective novel not this thing.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, parker
The book was entertaining. A good mystery while we follow Spenser find someone. It gets complicated of course. The ending with Joe and his kid was kind of sappy and the all the philosophizing between Spenser and Susan was a bit much at the end. So only 4 stars instead of 5. But still a good read.
Rose Blum
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Spencer met the new Pearl & Vinnie quite working for Joe ~ historical stuff. I absolutely love this story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
Jerry B
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it
“Pastime”, Parker’s 18th novel in the 39-book Spenser set, seems a little ho-hum for a while. Spenser’s informally-adopted son Paul Giacomin {see #7, “Early Autumn”}, now 25 and soon to be married, is upset that he can’t find his mother. He asks Spenser to help out, but their search goes nowhere until they find out about her latest boyfriend, Richard Beaumont, who it turns out was a “bagman” (cash collector) for the mob family headed by Joe Broz. So when Spenser’s search focuses on Beaumont, ...more
Gloria ~ mzglorybe
May 02, 2017 rated it liked it
#18 in the Spenser series, though my husband and I are not reading them in order, we can enjoy them just the same. They are short fast reads, and we like Spenser's glib sense of humor, his choices and descriptions of the food they eat and the drinks he orders. We have a list going of what we want to try. We also admire his tenacity in giving his best shot at whatever case he has taken on. For those of you who may not know, Spenser is a P.I. known by many in the Boston area where he lives with ...more
My progress in finishing off this series is moving more slowly as my work is getting in the way of evening and weekend reading time. That said, REALLY -- n Pastime, Robert Parker brings back Paul Giacomin and his uninteresting mother Patty from Early Autumn. The further I go into this series, the more I find past clients showing up repeatedly. However, in the end, the relationships between the head of a Boston criminal enterprise, Joe, his son Gerry, and Joe's kingpin enforcer, Vinnie, who sees ...more
Brent Soderstrum
Oct 26, 2016 rated it liked it
In my trek to read all of the Spenser novels by Robert B. Parker I just finished #18 Pastime. There really isn't much to this book. Paul is back in Spenser's life because he wants Spenser to find his mom who is missing. This is the same mother who treated him so poorly in a previous book that Spenser basically became a surrogate father to Paul. Paul also got a lot of psychological help due to his treatment by both his parents.

Spenser finds Paul's mom and that is really it for the main adventure.
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Continuing with the Spenser books, I am up to Pastime, which tells some of Spenser's earlier life. Paul wants to locate his mother, so Spenser helps and they get into trouble with mob guys, who want to kill Paul and Spenser. There is one scene in the woods where the bad guys could have shot Pearl, the dog, but they don't. Of course, we know that Pearl continues on for a while.
Jeff Yoak
Though I found the attempt to plumb Spenser's past a little shallow, this was a typically strong story overall. I loved pulling Paul back into the forefront, and Susan and Hawk are amazing as always. Nearly 20 books in, this series is as strong as ever!
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Like the series, characters with character (because they have some) & plots. Recommended.

Re-reading ...
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Yay! This one gets into Spenser's past and background. Finally!
Evelyn Wilson
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Paul's pathetic mother goes missing. How can anyone feel sorry for a "mother" like that? This books explains it somewhat but also why Spenser ended up with Paul. A great man now. Picked up a lot of Spenser. Susan, Spencer and Pearl. Hawk has to put up with Pearl but does he really or is he a softy?!

Page 95 . . . "Our professional lives continue to intersect," I said. "Still do."
"We both involved in the matter of, ah, crime," Hawk said.
"From varying perspectives," I said.
"You are each others
The primary value that Pastime brings to the Spenser canon lies in the revelations it provides about Spenser's background. We learn new things about his childhood, his teenage years, and the origin of his friendship with Hawk. Why and how did Spenser learn to cook? Now we know. Why does Hawk respect Spenser and why is he willing to go to the wall for him? Now we know that too. We even get an answer to the basic question of why Spenser lives in Boston.

A central focus of the book is the deepening
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Rating between 3 and 3.5

this novel is one of the more interesting novels in the series.
the core story is the return of Spensers pseudo-son Paul who on the eve of his wedding wants help in finding his mother. the second strand is the culmination of the Spenser/Hawk run-ins with the Broz family (Joe & Gerry).
interwoven into the story are more references to the pre-novels life of Spenser than I can remember reading before. Perhaps that is a why a lot of readers seem to count this one as the
Karin Snortland
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Although I enjoyed the mystery aspect of this book, it sometimes felt more about the dog than the mystery. The dog seemed to be a big part of every scene, kind of distracting from the real theme. Lots of "big words" for me to look up, which took a bit longer to read than normal. That's not a bad thing, just a thing. Overall, I enjoyed this very quick read and would recommend it to those who like crime mysteries.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a lot about personal growth, or not. Mother of a son, son raised by men only, son raised with dysfunctional Mother and Father, son that doesn't live up to gangster fathers expectations, and more. We learn more about Spensers upbringing. We learn more about Paul now that he's a grownup after getting a better start because of Spenser. There is danger for Spenser because he wants to help. That's who he is. I enjoyed this segment in Spenser's life.
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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)
  • Ceremony (Spenser, #9)
  • The Widening Gyre (Spenser, #10)
“Pearl was hurring around my apartment, sniffing everything, including Rich Beaumont and Patty Giacomin, which neither of them like much.

"Can you get Pearl to settle down?" Paul asked.

"I could speak to her, but she'd continue to do what she wants, and I'd look ineffectual. My approach is to endorse everything she does."

Susan said, "Come here, Pearl." And Pearl went over to her, and Susan gave her a kiss on the mouth, and Pearl wagged her tail; and lapped Susan's face, and turned and went back and sniffed at Patty.”
“I always loved it when I had a story to tell her, because her attention was complete and felt like sunlight.” 4 likes
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