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Spenser #21

Walking Shadow

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A murder draws Boston PI Spenser into the dramatic world of theater in this New York Times bestseller in Robert B. Parker’s long-running series.

In a shabby waterfront town, an actor is shot dead onstage. Granted, the script left much to be desired. But there's more behind the scenes than an overzealous critic—and Spenser and Hawk are combing Port City’s underworld to find it...

“Great fun...[Spenser] is still the cockiest and wittiest P.I. on the block.”— The New York Times

281 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published May 1, 1994

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About the author

Robert B. Parker

230 books1,997 followers
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. His works incorporate encyclopedic knowledge of the Boston metropolitan area. Parker was 77 when he died of a heart attack at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts; discovered at his desk by his wife Joan, he had been working on a novel. The Spenser novels have been cited by critics and bestselling authors such as Robert Crais, Harlan Coben and Dennis Lehane as not only influencing their own work but reviving and changing the detective genre.
Robert B. Parker was one of contemporary fiction's most popular and respected detective writers. Best known for his portrayal of the tough but erudite investigator Spenser, Parker wrote over twenty-five novels over the course of his career, which began in 1973. Parker's acclaim and his thorough background in classic detective literature helped earn him the somewhat unusual commission of completing a Philip Marlowe novel that the great Raymond Chandler had left unfinished.

Promised Land and the other Spenser novels spawned the movie Spenser: For Hire and a string of made-for-TV movies.

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5 stars
1,868 (31%)
4 stars
2,388 (39%)
3 stars
1,503 (25%)
2 stars
218 (3%)
1 star
30 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 266 reviews
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.3k followers
July 15, 2019

Walking Shadow is one of those ho-hum Spensers. It’s a page-turner—all the Spensers are page-turners—but the reader is not left with a lot of pleasure after all that page-turning is done.

Still, there’s a lot going on: a stalker dressed in black, a busty—and needy— young actress, the sexy wife of a Chinese gangster, a once-good police chief mired in corruption, a Vietnamese gang (“The Double Dragons”), a tong lord, both Hawk and Vinnie Morris for backup, human trafficking in the dead of night, a kidnapping on videotape, and an actor shot dead on stage just after singing “what else matters if your lucky in love?”

Perhaps that’s the trouble: there’s just too much going on. It’s as if Parker just threw a lot of stuff into his top hat, and out popped this story. And the biggest problem is that the solution to to the murders seems just as arbitrary as anything else.

The atmosphere of Port City, particularly the boat landing at midnight, are both very fine, as is Spenser’s interview with an illegal fish plant worker in his tiny rented room. But these bright spots are not enough to make a good book.

It is Spenser, course. And this series is always entertaining. But if—unlike me—you haven’t resolved to read the whole series, you could easily find a better Spenser mystery.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,743 followers
October 25, 2011
You know Spenser’s in real trouble when he thinks that Hawk isn’t enough back-up.

A theater manager is being stalked by a mysterious figure and asks Spenser to help. Before he can start investigating, an actor is shot and killed on stage during a performance. An actress also complains of being followed. While he’s trying to figure out exactly what’s going on, Spenser gets threatened by the leader of the local Chinese gangs. After surviving a hail of bullets, Spenser and Hawk turn to gunman and gangster Vinnie Morris for assistance.

OK, I’m starting to seriously question my memory at this point. I’d remembered this as being one of my least favorite Spenser books, but after this reread of it….Not too bad at all. Vinnie had been lurking in the background of several previous books as a potential deadly enemy for Spenser, and it was a nice twist that they ended up working together.

The mystery piece was pretty good, but once again in this series too much of the plot become wrapped up in one character’s psychological problems. Less head shrinking and more gunplay with the Chinese tong would have bumped this rating up a star. The Susan factor isn’t too bad in this one because there’s a subplot about them buying a farm house that they’re renovating. When Spenser and Susan actually have shit to do other than look deeply in each other’s eyes and declare their undying love, they���re a lot more tolerable.

Next up: Spenser has to assualt a fortified building without any help from Hawk in Thin Air.
Profile Image for Cathy DuPont.
456 reviews166 followers
March 1, 2014
I haven't read a Spenser/Hawk series in a few months since I was getting weary of him and Susan, but this fun merry-go-round story put a spark back for me. (Never would I get weary of Hawk for heaven's sake.)

The story kind of went nowhere and Spenser and Hawk said so and that's what I liked about it. Spenser and Hawk both acknowledged that they were on a wild goose chase always coming up with zero answers in trying to find the shooter of an actor who was on stage performing when killed. There were no suspects and no one knows anything about anything.

And we aren't in Boston, Dorothy, but on the Mass. coast in a smaller snobby town delineated by class geographically. The name of the town is Port City where illegal immigration of Chinese supplies the ranks of a Chinese mob who speak only Cantonese (or Mandarin.) And of course, they have their own closed society answerable only to their mob boss.

But is there any connection to anything? The answer is no, nothing and it turns into a bit of a joke between them; there's nothing to go on through most of the book. Toward the last 1/5 of the book, clues begin to surface and good thing because the book was almost over.

Hawk is black, shaved head, 18" neck, works out regularly and drives a new white Jaguar. He's the hippest and best dressed in the entire paperback world.

If I turn up missing here on Goodreads.com it's because I'm in a white Jag with a white scarf in my hair blowing in the wind with a hot dude driving. And Tom Bodett, don't leave the light on. We'll be at a much classier joint than you can provide.
Profile Image for Metodi Markov.
1,273 reviews294 followers
June 29, 2022
Спенсър е корав както винаги и хич не обича да го водят за носа. Станал свидетел на убийство в театъра на Порт сити, той няма как да остане безучастен. Но пък местната китайската мафия въобще не е съгласна някой да ѝ се меси в делата...

Приятно и бързо четиво, идеално за разпускане!
Profile Image for William.
675 reviews316 followers
May 23, 2017
(The word "maroon" appears 3 times in this novel)

3.5 stars

This book is graced with a classic femme fatale in the noir style.

Solid plotting with a good pace from the start, a mostly inscrutable enemy, and very menacing situations at times.

An above-average Spenser for Parker's later books.
Profile Image for Димитър Цолов.
Author 28 books267 followers
June 29, 2022
Семпла история, но пък идеална за плажа, понеже не трябва да се напрягаш хич, за да уловиш нишката. Сюзън и Спенсър са все така идеалната двойка, Хоук (тук назован от преводача "Хок") - все същият корав пич и верен приятел; към екипа се присъедини и един чешит, Вини - супер бързак с патлаците, понеже китайчетата също не се шегуват. 3,4/5
Profile Image for Mike.
764 reviews8 followers
October 29, 2016
I was in "Bob's Used Books" several years ago looking for a new series to start, and the owner asked if I'd ever read Spenser. Nope but I'll try it. This book was actually my first entry in the novels even though it's #21. I started back at the beginning and worked my way through and here I am again.
I enjoy the characters, especially Spenser and Hawk, and their sarcastic bantering. I've seen several reviewers who detest poor Susan, but to date, the primal and intellectual bond between her and Spenser is good.
Here, Susan asks Spenser to look into a theater manager's worry that he has a stalker. We soon find ourselves knee deep in murder (onstage), a Tong gang, and smuggling of illegal aliens.
Profile Image for Kellie.
1,024 reviews69 followers
January 18, 2020
The setting for this #21 in the Spenser series is Port City Massachusetts. Susan is on the board of directors for a small little play house. One evening, as Spenser and Susan are watching a play, a terrible tragedy occurs. This launches Spenser into an investigation that becomes very dangerous. Vinnie from the mob appears in this one to help Hawk protect Spencer. A new character, Mei Ling, who Spenser higher as a Chinese translator, is introduced.
The mystery is complex and is slow to develop. This didn’t take away from the enjoyment, however. This was a pretty good one.

I’m on a roll with the Spenser books lately. It’s been a long time since I have done a marathon reading on a series. I need to get some more.
1,911 reviews10 followers
March 30, 2019
This is the first Spenser novel that did not appeal to me. I had difficulty connecting with the characters or to care what happened to them, finding them flat and superficial.

Spenser and Susan are headed to Port City, a rundown fishing town with a large Chinese population just outside of Boston. Susan is a member on the board of the local experimental theater and Spenser has a potential client to interview. The Artistic Director of the Port City Theater Company believes someone is stalking him and wants Spenser to chase him down. He has not involved the police, concerned it might create unwanted negative publicity for the theater. Spenser agrees to take on the job.

That evening Spenser and Susan attend one of the theater’s plays. Spenser considers it a boring and pretentious mish-mash about appearance and reality, but then mayhem breaks out when one of the actors in the middle of his performance, is shot, the bullet landing expertly at a point just above his heart.

Spenser takes on the murder case as well as the stalking in an effort to help out former state police officer DeSpain, now the Chief of Police in the Port City. DeSpain is a man who had a reputation as a good cop but there are rumours he is playing things a little too close to the edge these days.

Spenser is quickly warned off getting involved in the city’s affairs by Lonnie Wu, husband of Rikki Wu another theater board member. Lonnie is an important member of the Boston Chinese tong and he and two of his Vietnamese gang members enter Spenser’s office and threaten him. The tong uses a gang called the Death Dragons to help them control Chinatown in the Port City and these young Asian youths speak little English but are formidable, brutal killers. They track Spenser continually as he tries to make progress in the murder investigation and Spenser calls in Hawk for backup. Hawk is joined by Vinnie Morris who was Joe Broz’s right hand man but has been out of work for two years and needs some cash. He is also itching for work and concerned that his skills may be getting rusty.

One of the actresses comes forward to report that she too has someone stalking her, there is a drive by shooting, another murder, a strange kidnapping, the discovery of a cache of pornographic pictures and a steady influx of illegals which appears to be ignored by the Chief of Police. Spenser sorts it all out and unlike his last few cases, there are no moral or ethical questions he must face to wrap it all up.

Although the characters from the theater did not spark my interest, Mei Ling the young Chinese student who came to serve as translator and help Spenser understand a culture he knew little about, was a standout. A doctoral student in Asian studies at Harvard, she gets kudos for her insights, her courage and her ability to demonstrate strength through her quiet but forceful ways.

Readers know what makes these books entertaining. It is a certain mix of “just enough” Hawk, descriptions of workouts at Henry’s gym, references to Spenser’s wardrobe, literary quotes and Spenser fawning over Susan that makes it all work. But this time the surprise presence of Vinnie, created a third wheel in the Spenser/Hawk dynamic and stifled their normally snappy dialogue.

I know there are some that will disagree with my rating, but because I am on an extended Spenser “binge read”, it is natural to compare the books to those that preceded them. It may be that because some of the better ones were not so far in the past, that this installment failed to work for me. Maybe I am just being grouchy. Or maybe it is the old principle that the right book at the right time works and at the wrong time doesn’t. Still the book is O.K. It’s just the only Spenser novel I have given a two star rating in the twenty I have read, which says something.

Profile Image for Brian.
306 reviews48 followers
January 20, 2020
Walking Shadow is another enjoyable entrant in the Spenser series. At the center of the story is a pretty complicated mystery with a lot of moving parts. The book contains quite a bit of action and also does a good job of showcasing Spenser's patented wit.

Susan Silverman is on the board of an avant-garde theater company in Port City, a small run-down city on the Massachusetts coast. She asks Spenser to accompany her to the theater and talk to the artistic director, who's worried he's being stalked. After Spenser agrees to help, he and Susan attend the play. In the middle of the play, an actor is shot dead on stage, and the case takes on a whole new dimension.

Despite the fact that the murder occurred in a crowded theater, no one in the audience can offer much help in identifying the shooter. The police aren't much help, so it's up to Spenser to investigate. He starts by looking for a motive. Was the murder related to the stalking of the artistic director? Was it unconnected? Port City has a large Chinatown community and there are rumors that illegal Chinese laborers are being smuggled on the coast, so did it involve Chinese gang activity?

Spenser is warned to stay out of Port City or be killed. He enlists Hawk to help him, and he knows they're on the right track when they're almost gunned down while talking to a witness. But they still don't have a suspect, and they're definitely not out of danger.

As with most Spenser books, Walking Shadow is a page-turner. The action moves almost as fast as Spenser's repartee with Hawk and just about everyone else he encounters. Susan is still not my favorite character, but she does contribute some good lines to the dialogue. Having dinner one night with Spenser and Hawk, she rolls her eyes at their wit. "'One and a half billion males on the planet and I'm having dinner with Heckel and Jekyll,' she said." Okay, Susan, I'll give you that one.
Profile Image for Scott A. Miller.
495 reviews16 followers
December 28, 2019
Another solid Parker mystery. A little slow in places, but I didn’t figure it out completely until late in the story. Vinnie look like he will be an interesting member of the crew.
Profile Image for Jerry B.
1,382 reviews118 followers
October 3, 2015
“Shadow” is another typical entry in Parker’s lengthy 39-book Spenser series – this one a middle outing at #21. Susan is on the board of a struggling small theater group in run-down coastal town Port City. While she and Spenser are attending a play, the leading man is shot dead from the back of the auditorium, so naturally our hero is recruited to find the perp. Clues are so slow to surface that both the characters and we readers are rather frustrated. Finally Spenser’s usual poking and prodding develops some possibilities of many bad things going on, with Hawk and Vinny providing almost protective custody as Spenser gets both death threats as well as several near-miss attacks. We did not at all guess the plot’s final outcomes, in a somewhat more twisty tale than usual – but despite that suspense, this was not necessarily one of our favorite story lines. But as usual, we were sufficiently entertained despite polishing off the entire novel in a single reading session while on an airport layover!
Profile Image for Brent Soderstrum.
1,413 reviews18 followers
November 21, 2016
In Parker's 21st book from the Spenser series four words come to mind, "The girl be crazy".

The book starts out with Spenser going to the local Port City theatre to see a very bizarre play. In the middle of it one of the actors is shot to death right in front of the audience. Susan gets Spenser to help the theatre find the killer and a stalker who has been stalking members of the production crew prior to the killing.

The Chinese mob is involved and illegal immigration is examined. It comes down to someone who really is crazy manipulating others leading to three murders.

Hawk and Vinnie (who has left Joe Broz) protect Spenser during his investigation. Spenser needs the protection because the Chinese mob wants Spenser dead and it is the Death Dragons job is to make sure that gets done.

Hawk even ends up with a girlfriend by the end of the book. It will be interesting to see if she will be with Hawk in future books or if she was a short term adventure for him.
510 reviews4 followers
July 29, 2020
Spenser and Susan buy a country fixer upper and Spenser swears off earning a living.

Spenser seems to have given up on paying cases. Susan persuaded him to help out a non-profit theater group where she serves on the board. The manager believes he is being stalked. During his attendance at a performance, one of the actors is killed and the situation continues to escalate. As more events occur and Spenser commits more resources, he is frustrated because he is not findng any clues. One major difficulty is many of the events are tied to Chinatown where the residents are singularly unhelpful, but polite. They prefer the known Tong to the unknown authorities. Gradually the events put enough pressure on folks that a few clues shake loose and Spenser is able to solve all of the crimes precipitated for an unlikely reason.

Another quick read.
Profile Image for Steve.
619 reviews11 followers
October 26, 2019
For some reason I only gave this book 4 stars last time I read it back in 2015. Maybe I'd read too much Spenser (is that possible) or something, but this is a great book! Spenser, Hawk and Vinnie are together and it seems to be taking on a gang...but maybe not. Great book as most of Robert Parker's are!
5,200 reviews53 followers
August 24, 2016
#21 in the Spenser series.

Spenser novel - Susan engages Spenser to find out who is stalking the artistic director of a theater group in a waterfront town north of Boston and then who killed an actor during a performance. The local leader of a Chinese tong tries to discourage him

Profile Image for Lukasz Pruski.
921 reviews109 followers
June 19, 2021
"'What's the hurry? We have the rest of our life to do this.'
'You know perfectly well that I am always in a hurry.'
'Almost always,' I said.
'Except then.'
(A snippet of Spenser and Susan's banter.)

Robert B. Parker's Walking Shadow (1994), the twenty-first installment in the long-running Spenser saga, is - in my view - one of the weaker novels of the series. It seems that the unremarkable plot serves only one purpose: to give the reader a pretext to meet the four recurring characters again: intrepid, intellectual, athletic, and very manly Spencer, his psychologist partner Susan Silverman, PhD, his infinitely cool close friend Hawk, and Vinnie Morris - the best shot in the entire Universe (well, in Boston).

Spenser and Susan come to a coastal Massachusetts town, where Susan is a board member of a local theater company. The artistic director of the company suspects he is being followed; Spenser's task is to catch the stalker. Soon things get more serious: when Susan and Spenser watch a play in the theater, someone shoots one of the actors to death. Naturally, Spenser undertakes the murder investigation for the theater company.

The town has a huge Chinese population - including many people without legal immigration status - and Spenser learns that it is actually the tong that wields the power in the town. Spenser's investigation bothers the tong's bosses and he is threatened with death if he does not stay out of their affairs. Which explains the appearance of Hawk and Vinnie. And - as Anton Chekhov might say - once Vinnie shows up in the novel, there will be shooting at the end.

Instead of following the feeble plot, I have focused on finding funny passages and nice prose fragments. Like the following one:
"[...] looking at the people moving past us, and they seemed to me for a minute as they must have seemed to Herman Leong all the time: insubstantial, and temporary wisps of momentary history that flickered past, while behind him was the long, unchanging, overpowering weight of his race that bore upon the illusory moment [...]"
As to humor, in addition to the epigraph quote, the reader can find a few hilarious passages of sexual innuendo like, for instance
"'Do you wish my flower were like a polished pearl?' Susan said.
'I'm an old-fashioned guy,' I said. 'I prefer the original, so to speak, unprocessed model.'"
The Chinese graduate student, Mei Ling, who serves as Spenser's interpreter, is the most memorable character in the novel. There is also a thin layer of seriousness about the "have-nots" and racial conflicts in the society: Spenser is stunned by the subhuman living conditions of Chinese immigrants in Massachusetts. The reader may also be surprised by how much the language standards have changed in the recent years: the book was published only 27 years ago, yet I am afraid it would be criticized today for "insensitive language."

Two-and-a-half stars.
Profile Image for PelicanFreak.
1,137 reviews
August 3, 2022
Spenser’s managed to anger an entire gang and needs both Hawk and Vinnie to protect him—this is fun because it’s the first time we see Vinnie on his side and not just agreeing to stay out of his way.

Personal life:
Spenser and Susan own a house in Concord that they’re renovating together.

Overall: intriguing with an extra psychotic antagonist. A fun read.

5 stars.
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Spenser mentions how he used to watch Linda from his office—I believe every book since the one those 2 hooked up in has had him do so. :)

*Recurring (semi-major / major) characters:
Hawk & Vinnie as mentioned above.
Spenser reconnects with Healy.
Mei Ling

Quan Chang - crime boss

*LOL quote:

“I solve ALL my cases … some of them are just not solved yet.” —Spenser

This narrator … his voice is pleasant enough, but he does NOT fit Spenser at all. Not a fan.

First edition cover:

Spenser Reading Order:

1. The Godwulf Manuscript (1973)
2. God Save the Child (1974)
3. Mortal Stakes (1975)
4. Promised Land (1976)
5. The Judas Goat (1978)
6. Looking for Rachel Wallace (1980)
7. Early Autumn (1980)
8. A Savage Place (1981)
9. Ceremony (1982)
10. The Widening Gyre (1983)
11. Valediction (1984)
12. A Catskill Eagle (1985)
13. Taming a Seahorse (1986)
14. Pale Kings and Princes (1987)
15. Crimson Joy (1988)
16. Playmates (1989)
17. Stardust (1990)
18. Pastime (1991)
19. Double Deuce (1991)
20. Paper Doll (1993)
21. Walking Shadow (1994)
22. Thin Air (1995)
23. Chance (1996)
24. Small Vices (1997)
25. Sudden Mischief (1998)
26. Hush Money (1999)
27. Hugger Mugger (2000)
28. Potshot (2001)
29. Widow's Walk (2002)
30. Back Story (2003)
31. Bad Business (2004)
32. Cold Service (2005)
33. School Days (2005)
34. Dream Girl (2006)
35. Now and Then (2007)
36. Rough Weather (2008)
36.5 Chasing the Bear (2009)
37. The Professional (2009)
38. Painted Ladies (2010)
39. Sixkill (2011)
39.5 Silent Night (2013)
Spenser: A Mysterious Profile (2022)

continued in the series by Ace Atkins
2,536 reviews32 followers
March 18, 2019
The strength of this book is the dialog and the supporting characters. Susan is one of the board of directors of the Port City Theater Company and the director claims that he is being followed. As a “favor” to her, Spenser agrees to consider the case and accompanies Susan to a performance. The situation immediately gets ratcheted up when an actor is shot and killed in the middle of a performance.
Port City is a town with a long past with several ethnic groups well-segregated. Along the sea are the fishermen of Portuguese extraction and on the hill live the wealthy whites. Between them live the Asians, run by a Chinese organized crime syndicate backed by young Vietnamese men that are emotionless and ruthless killers.
Realizing the significant danger, Spenser brings in Hawk and Vinnie Morris as backup, allowing for a great deal of interactive dialog between the three of them and Susan. It is snappy, intelligent and humorous, you find yourself wishing the scenes were a little bit longer. Spenser is forced to delve deeply into the structure of the “Chinese business,” the way that things are run by crime bosses in the Chinese-American culture.
This is a convoluted plot with players that pretend to be many things, some of which are odd. Hawk sums it up well when he tells Spenser, “This is the silliest thing you ever got me involved in.” Yet, it is a good story with a conclusion that wraps up the case with no dangling unknowns.
Profile Image for Stephen Mettee.
Author 4 books4 followers
November 25, 2017
It's hard to explain why I only gave this novel four stars. It might be that I'm holding the bar higher for Parker than I would another author.
Any Spenser novel with characters Susan Silverman, Hawk, and Vinnie Morris on board is a good read.
But--is there always a "but"?--Parker moved some of the literary gambits he employed in his Spenser novels onto the back burner where they simmered gently rather than boiled.
The usual long, clever, introspective conversations with Susan seemed truncated.The retaliatory violence delivered by Spenser, Hawk and Morris seemed almost quaint, maybe with a hint of old lace tossed in. And Spenser's culinary skills--exhibited by Parker, along with Spenser's multiple literary allusions, to soften his detective's rough edges--were more of the cooked-in-the-microwave variety than the celebrity-chef variety.
Still, as I said, maybe I've unfairly elevated my expections for this master of detective fiction. Perhaps another author would have garnered a 5-star rating. You read it and decide.
Profile Image for Jay Wright.
1,500 reviews3 followers
April 3, 2022
The story takes place in a port town, renamed to protect the innocent. A theatre group is subsidized by the affluent and the manage is being stalked. Susan is on the board and gets Spenser to help. The community is mostly Chinese with a smattering of Portuguese and White upper crust. While you are fairly certain who did it or had it done, there are many twists and turns that keep the story moving.
Profile Image for Bill.
8 reviews
January 5, 2019
Classic Spencer, hard boiled detective. But be aware if these were movies they would typically be R-rated
Profile Image for Kay.
1,286 reviews
August 8, 2021
The best written of all the Spenser series--a joy to read the sentences, the imaginative combos of words--so well done.
2 reviews
May 18, 2018
Another good one

Robert Parker was one of the best. The mystery winds through theater and Chinatown with Spencer being his stoic, funny self.
Profile Image for Del.
307 reviews13 followers
May 15, 2021
I didn't remember a thing about this going in, which I didn't think was a promising sign... but I really enjoyed it. Spenser investigates a stalking at a theater company as a favour to Susan, but pretty soon, somone has been killed, and Spenser finds himself in the crosshairs of the Chinese mafia. Enter Hawk and Vinnie Morris as reinforcements. Any Spenser story benefits from more Vinnie Morris, so I was happy with this development. We also get cameos from semi-regulars Lee Farrell and state detective Healy, but no Quirk or Belson, although I think that's rectified in the next instalment, Thin Air, which is one I don't remember too fondly...
462 reviews2 followers
January 29, 2022
Good story; some new material. Susan and Spenser get closer. A new tough guy joins the team. As always, a VERY quick read. If there's a formula, I haven't figured it out yet.
Profile Image for Rajesh.
273 reviews10 followers
April 21, 2022
Slow as molasses to start with (too much banter) but picked up well in the latter half.
Profile Image for Elmer Foster.
489 reviews1 follower
October 11, 2020
There are moments of clarity when reading that enhance/destroy a book. I had such a moment when reading this story. Granted this is #21 in the series, so there is a pattern for Parker stories that can be a comfort but in this case it was a hinderance. That usually happens when Parker is lacking a decent plot.

If a writer only submits his previous structure basics, i.e. food descriptions, lame baseball hat/clothing, sexual desire in the form of hedonistic advances, locale descriptions etc., by themselves are uninteresting to read about without a reason to know them. (side gripe: what doesn't Spenser drink, alcohol-wise? Most folks I know have preference. Seems like Parker is pandering for sponsorship.)

In this outing Spenser is working for Susan, in a sense, on a police matter that just so happened to occur in front of Spenser and Susan, but had no business being written about or pursued by Spenser. Parker read a history book on Chinese culture (as mentioned in the acknowledgments) then paraphrased it into a city setting as a distraction, while he regurgitated a black widow story from Chandler.

The book was a daily journal of well-to-do old folks, friends of the theatre, buying a retreat in Concord, while doing their day job and meddling with the locals. Not exciting.

Even with Hawk and Vinnie there for support, which was a highlight, there was no mystery. Merely, repetition of a detective theme to fill pages without meaning. Ham-fisted corruption in a small cultural town, lame use of italics and foreign language to imply story depth, youth gangs that were window dressing, human trafficking that was acceptable to everyone in the story like it was just a Thursday in the park, all wasted and unresolved.

Not a favorite of mine, as I began to see Spenser as the lame shadow of Parker's stance on the back cover. Not a tough guy, just an overweight smartass that reads poetry and cooks like Julia Child.

Parker is wearing thin for my tastes. Wouldn't recommend this one as it does nothing but drain your time away without satisfaction.

Thanks for reading.
Profile Image for Becky.
598 reviews20 followers
July 29, 2015
Okay, so the book wasn't "amazing," but Parker does such a GREAT job with this series, and personally, I think of lot of his Spenser books are a 4.5, so giving this one a 5-star rating to make up for all the ones I gave a 4-star. :) And "Walking Shadow" has a number of complexities to it that highlight Parker's easy grace with the English language, his in-depth knowledge of the Arts, his familiarity with Love (and detecting,) the social issues of the day (remarkably identical to many we're experiencing right now,) and has Hawk, VINNIE!, and Spencer joining forces to solve this many-faceted conundrum. And no worries, Parker, still delivers plenty of witty conversations, sardonic comebacks, and plot twists-and-turns.
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