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Walking Shadow

(Spenser #21)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  4,763 ratings  ·  207 reviews
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...
Paperback, 281 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published May 1994)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,763 ratings  ·  207 reviews

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Bill Kerwin

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
Cathy DuPont
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 02, 2008 rated it liked it
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
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(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.
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Paula Dembeck
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction, kindle
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
Scott A. Miller
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Jerry B
Jun 25, 2015 rated it liked it
“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 ...more
Brent Soderstrum
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
#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

Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephen Mettee
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Debra Belmudes
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy Parker's Spenser stories!
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Classic Spencer, hard boiled detective. But be aware if these were movies they would typically be R-rated
Sheila Bayley
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good one

Robert Parker was one of the best. The mystery winds through theater and Chinatown with Spencer being his stoic, funny self.
Henry McLaughlin
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I thought I had read all of the Spenser novels. Somehow, I missed this one.
Both a refreshing and exciting read. Refreshing to be back in Parker's mesmerizing style with succinct descriptions that bring his settings and his characters to life. And to enjoy anew one of the best masters of dialogue I've ever read.
Parker adds an exciting plot with plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing until the final reveal. The end was a satisfying surprise.
And along the way, I got to spend time with
Cm Perkins
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I am reading everything Robert B. Parker wrote and down to my last few books. Just finished this one today and when I first started it I thought "OH NO - a dull book". But once I got past the set-up it once again was such a fun ride with Spencer-Hawk-Susan interaction, and throw in Vinnie for more laughs. Did not figure things out until close to the end - really good twists and turns. Once again - I highly recommend all his books!!!
Aug 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
This one started off a little slowly (for a Spenser) but picked up its usual pace about one third of the way through. It wasn't the most enjoyable of the Spenser books (can it be in finally feeling a little jaded after about 7 in a row) but it certainly did the trick. Nothing like a damaged maiden in distress. Mainly self-harm, though.
Evelyn Wilson
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
OMG, just reading Robert B. Parker's SPENSER books makes me feel so good! Paranoid, crazy people. that seems to be what Spenser deals with. It so helps Susan knows therapy! And I believe she has helped me.

Page 62 . . . Rikki Wu was sex. I was pretty sure she was spoiled and self-centered and shallow. Maybe cruel. Certainly careless about other people. . . .

Page 96 . . . Susan had a Diet Coke, warm, Farrell stared at it.
"Diet Coke? Warm?"
"I hate cold things," Susan said. . . .

Page 243 . . . I
Gilbert Stack
May 13, 2018 rated it liked it
While I don’t really think of Spenser novels as formulaic, there are some plot elements that recur with a great amount of regularity. Some of these elements are the strength of the novel, like Spenser learning about a new area or business in which the crime he is investigating has occurred. Others are important parts of most Spenser stories—bad guys warning him off and Spenser refusing to be warned. Walking Shadows has both of these elements as Spenser runs afoul of a tong. Unfortunately, it ...more
A. Nixon
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
This one had a lovely amount of snark between Spenser, Hawk, and Vinnie. I do adore that! And I enjoy his relationship with Susan.

But I'll admit that the story got a bit away from me. I liked Mei Ling but things got stupidly complicated/"let's intimidate all the people" and then suddenly, stupidly simple. I feel a bit bad for (view spoiler)

So... yeah. Some lovely moments
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, parker
Another run of the mill detective story. It felt as if I was reading something written by someone who really really wants to write a Film Noir story like the Maltese Falcon. But with a detective not nearly as skilled.
This is essentially a story where we follow Spencer around while he blunders around blindly with no clue what he was doing and failing to find out anything. While having Hawk around is always fun having Vinnie show up did not really add anything to the story.
Also, note that just
John Grazide
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
What's not to like about a quick Spenser story? Not much. Snark, action and a few twists are what you's expect and this one had that. Spenser is asked by Susan to help out (for free) a theater group she is a part of. The director of the group is being followed and Spenser says he'll help out. But when an actor is shot at a performance and a rough Chinese gang starts to threaten Spenser, things get interesting. Add to that mix a neurotic actress, maybe a crooked cop and some empty threats on ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: robert-b-parker
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it
A solid Spencer entry, with Spencer asked by Susan to solve the murder of a actor during a truly terrible play. Although Spencer is doing this pro bono, he, Hawk, and Vinnie spend a lot of time in Port City where the investigation becomes more about the smuggling of illegal Chinese and tongs, than murder. In the midst of all this Spencer and Susan buy a house in the country to fix up, and Hawk becomes friendly with a female student of Chinese background who serves as an interpreter for Spencer. ...more
G.K. Parks
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've always loved Robert B. Parker. His books. His style. I've read almost all of his works several years ago, but this novel sticks out in my mind. For some reason this one was just a little different than the others. This one focused on a stalker, and from what I remember, there was a bit of interplay with Spenser's case and Susan's role. As usual Hawk was around to tag along, and Vinnie Morris was needed to provide additional back-up. It makes me nostalgic for the late writer and his ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-read-list
This is a darker than normal entry into the Spenser series that is still enjoyable. I’m always happiest to see Hawk and Spenser working together. But, you could just feel everyone getting ground down over the course of this addition. It read much more as a noir. This was an interesting experiment, but Spenser didn’t really feel at home in this dismal new world. Then again, we all need a reminder of how terrible the world can be at times...
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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)
“The evening stretches out against the sky, I thought. Like a patient etherized upon a table. I grinned to myself. Live fast, die young, and have a literate corpse.” 5 likes
“Vinnie and Hawk lounged in the theater lobby, blending in to the theatrical scene like two coyotes at a poultry festival.” 1 likes
More quotes…