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Early Autumn

(Spenser #7)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  7,329 ratings  ·  431 reviews
"[Robert B.] Parker's brilliance is in his simple dialogue, and in Spenser."--The Philadelphia Inquirer

A bitter divorce is only the beginning. First the father hires thugs to kidnap his son. Then the mother hires Spenser to get the boy back. But as soon as Spenser senses the lay of the land, he decides to do some kidnapping of his own.

With a contract out on his life, he he
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 5th 1992 by Dell (first published January 1st 1981)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  7,329 ratings  ·  431 reviews

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Bill Kerwin
May 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing

This—along with Mortal Stakes, Looking for Rachel Wallace, and Ceremony—is one of the best of the first dozen Spenser books, written in Robert B. Parker's finest period. Like the others, it deals with America's shifting values, and how a macho but moral hero—our Spenser—must make ambiguous ethical choices in order to preserve and foster what little good he can.

Patty Giacomin hires Spenser to find her teenage son, who has been abducted by his father Mel. Son Paul is little more than a pawn in thi
Dan Schwent
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
When Spenser is hired by a divorcee to bring back her kidnapped son from his father, he gets more than he bargained for. Paul's parents are using him as a pawn and neither really want him around. Spenser winds up taking the kid under his wing and soon has someone gunning for him...

Of the Spensers I've read so far, this one is in the top three. While it has all the Spenser hallmarks, like a long description of cooking a meal, wisecracks, discussions of Spenser's code, and Hawk being the baddest m
Jason Koivu
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, detective
Private Investigator Spenser gets caught in the middle of a tug-o-war between two parents and their child. Both want the kid, but for selfish reasons. The only one looking out for the boy is Spenser.

This was a really good read. All of Parker's Spencer books that I've read so far have been decent, but Early Autumn is a notch higher in quality than most. There's heart in this one. Specifically I mean Spenser's heart. Parker did a great job setting the stage for Spenser to show some real compassio
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spenser gets another peach of a client in this one. Patty Giacomin hires him to get her son, Paul, back from her husband, Mel. Patty and Mel had a nasty divorce, and they’ve made a game out of trying to keep Paul away from each other.

Spenser doesn’t have much trouble finding the kid but is disturbed by the fifteen year old boy who is suffering from an odd form of neglect. He isn’t abused, but since both of the parents are pieces of shit, Paul has been ignored and never taught about much of anyt
John Arfwedson
Jun 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the one to read if you're reading only one.

Spenser is an acquired taste. You have to like the formula and the archetype and not be overly concerned by the built-in limitations imposed by both. For me, when done well it's like listening to a great old song: you know what's coming but there's something irresistible about the melody. Like Ronnie "The Hawk" Hawkins might growl it out: "I put a spell on you."

At his best (not all the books), I love Spenser, the wisecracking gumshoe whose hear
Manuel Antão
Jun 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013


# 2013 - 90#

Funny how men dote on these Perfect Men that shoot well, cook well, have the perfect thing to say at every moment, and charm the ladies. What makes a man a Man? Is it the span of his chest, the stomach-muscles-that-are-very-well-developed framework, his towering height, bold face, calm countenance, full beard, mustache, or deep croaky voice? Spenser epitomizes all these traits...

Is this a coming-of-age story or pulp noir fiction? If genre is a type of cultural ritual, what does the
Vincent Lombardo
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book but for different reasons than many of the other Spenser novels. As much as i enjoy a badass team up between Spenser and Hawk, i enjoyed it more for the relationship between Spenser and Paul. He forms a father/son relationship with the kid. He transforms a skinny prick of a kid into someone worthwhile and half the fun is the journey.
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: mystery fans, fiction fans
Shelves: mystery
This is, I think, the best of the Spenser mysteries. It presents the hero as a more fully rounded character with interests and talents outside the rote solving of crimes. His interaction with the boy who has been damaged by the actions of his divorced parents reveals not only the human behind the wise-cracking facade but important hints as to the past of Spenser himself. Susan is also shown to have both flaws and virtues here. I believe this was the point at which Parker committed himself to wri ...more
Jeff Miller
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really was wonder how the initial setup of this novel was going to bear out as a full story. Not only did it, but definitely one of my favs of his so far.
Elaine Tomasso
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Spenser is hired to keep Paul Giacomin safe from his father as he is a pawn between warring parents. This is a much more sedate, mature and reflective novel where we learn more about Spenser's motivations and values as he struggles to do right by Paul. I'm not sure that this would be a good introduction to the series for new readers as it's not typical of most of the series but it is an interesting addition for readers familiar with it. I thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace. ...more
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
I haven't really been a fan of this author. I read his books when I need to do it for a book challenge, but I don't seek them out. I often wondered why there was such a huge following for this author. According to the reviews, a lot of people love him. While reading this book, I think for the first time, I could see why that is so. I liked the one liners and the short sentence structure. I also liked Spenser. He is definitely a character you can stand behind. I loved that part. So 4 stars. ...more
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another five-star rating. The Sunny Randall book
where Sunny mentors a young girl was written in
1999. This book in the Spenser series was written
in 1981, but Spenser is hired to find a 15-year-old
boy who has been kidnapped by his father, more as
revenge against the mother than love for son. Spenser
determines that the frail, disinterested boy needs to
learn to be autonomous, dependent on himself. Spenser
takes Paul to the Maine wood to build a cabin for a
friend, which is really a crash course in surv
Sep 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Parker's 7th Spenser book is one of the best in the series. It reveals a lot about Spenser and his code by watching him save a kid (Paul Giacomin) from his indifferent parents. Spenser is approached by the kid's mother. His task is to retrieve the boy from his noncustodial parent, but it soon becomes obvious that Paul is just a pawn in a game between his parents. They irritate each other by holding him, but neither cares for him. Spenser decides that the undeveloped boy needs a crash course in l ...more
Dec 04, 2016 rated it liked it
My second Spenser series book and I liked it a bit more than the previous, but still found of somewhat lacking. Oh, it's entertaining in a general sense, and Spenser's wise-cracking ways are perhaps his best feature. But I grew weary of the repeated and overly detailed descriptions of what people were wearing as Spenser encountered them. Was this a fashion review or a mystery novel? I also thought the plot was a bit stretched. Spencer turns from a simple PI job involving retrieving a divorcee's ...more
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More great Spenser stuff here, even though I didn’t quite like this one as much as Looking for Rachel Wallace—to be fair though, I think that’s probably because I tend to find irritable lesbian feminist authors more interesting than irritable reticent teenagers.

I don’t know if Spenser is softening up or what, he’s been positively nurturing the last couple books and I did end up liking his relationship with Paul and watching him teach him how to be a man (at least in the context of 1980 America.
Robert Berry
Sep 30, 2020 rated it liked it
a father hires thugs to kidnap his son. Then the mother hires Spenser to get the boy back.
With a contract out on his life, he heads for the Maine woods, determined to give a puny smart ass 15 year old a crash course in survival and how to grow up and be hisself, including dance
Stewart Sternberg
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Probably one of the better Spenser novels. It focuses on the detective's attempt to help a teenager develop a sense of self while dealing with his selfish parents. ...more
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
This is the least "Spenser"-ish of the Spenser novels, and it's the most quintessentially "Spenser"-sh. If that's possible. I've probably read it more than any other in the series and probably could've written 75% of what I'm going to end up saying here without cracking it open. But why deny myself?

I'm going to try to keep this from getting out of control, but no promises.
Please. I have no one else. Please."

"There's a qustion whether you n
Brian Poole
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Robert B. Parker’s Early Autumn was a compelling early Spenser novel that helped move the series smoothly into the ‘80s.

The plot was fairly straightforward. Spenser was hired to look after neglected teen Paul Giacomin who had become nothing more than a bargaining chip in his terrible parents’ divorce war. Spenser found a way to extricate Paul from his dead end life and put him on the path to becoming an actual person.

The way that Parker embroidered that basic premise was one of the keys to Early
Maureen DeLuca
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
What can you say about Robert B Parkers books that haven't already been said? Especially the Spenser series. - this is about 2 parents, who cannot stand each other, and basically is using their 15 year old son as a 'pawn' .... I will never understand 2 people, that bring a child into this world, then discover that they cannot stand each other, hate each other and use their child/children to 'get back' at the other.

This book starts out where the father hires thugs to kidnap his son, then the mot
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Early Autumn is among my favorite novels in the Spenser series. Its premise — Spenser's decision to mentor a fifteen-year-old boy whose parents have neglected him and are now using him as a pawn in a custody dispute — provides Spenser with the opportunity to expound on his philosophy of life and his code of behavior as a man.

When Spenser meets Paul Giacomin, the boy is a lost soul with no strengths, no opinions, and no interests. Spenser decides to help him develop self-respect and autonomy, to
Gloria ~ mzglorybe
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This is an older 1981 Spenser novel where Spenser first meets troubled 15 yr old Paul Giacomin. His mother comes to Spenser to hire him to get her son back from her ex-husband. They are each using the boy as a pawn, neither of them really wanting him, and the poor kid knows it. He doesn't like either of his parents, and after getting better acquainted with their lifestyles, neither does Spenser.

This is not really a typical Spenser crime novel, with action and plots. We see an admirable side of
Jeff Yoak
This was a little of a slow starter, but ended up my favorite of the Spenser novels so far. True, Hawk's appearance in a novel makes it better than it would be otherwise and he appears fairly late in this one, but there is another, more direct, reason.

The first part of the novel has Spenser solving a rather typical case... tracking down a kid who has been taken by his father from his mother who has custody. He tracks him down and brings him back. That's sort of ho-hum. Spenser then comes to disl
Jul 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
My first Spencer book, and I kinda liked it. I found my self laughing in the places I should have, and there were quite a few of those - quite humorous. The mystery, well, it wasn't much. The side story, about Spencer taking a fatherly interest in a teen boy that needed help, that was quite well done. I read there are more books with the teen as a character, and I'd be interested in how Parker plays it. At the least this was a nice intro to a new character. If I recall, I chose this book based o ...more
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
Spenser is in the midst of a nasty divorce and custody case. He takes a paternal role in this one, and not much mystery to this installment.

I usually like Robert B. Parker, but I found this novel a bit lacking and boring.
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Spenser novel is the one that introduces Paul Giacomin, a character that reappears in subsequent Spenser stories. He is fifteen and his parents are fighting over his custody, but in reality, they are fighting each other, and Paul is simply a convenient tool. His mother Patty hires Spenser to “spring” Paul from his father’s custody, a task that he finds easy.
Spenser quickly learns that Paul is a listless waif and the product of bad parenting and he decides to change that. He enlists Susan’
Paula Dembeck
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This seventh novel in this series veers in a different direction, away from Spenser’s action packed private investigator cases to a story which is more character driven. In this installment Spenser is hired by Patty Giacomin, a woman who is recently divorced but continues to do battle with her estranged husband. Mel has taken their fifteen year old son Paul and refuses to bring him back. Patty has custody of the boy in their divorce settlement and has petitioned the court to take action. A heari ...more
Karen Potts
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Spenser takes on the challenge of teaching a teenage boy what his self-absorbed, negligent & otherwise questionable parents failed to teach him about living a decent & normal life. Lots of excitement, shooting & a satisfying conclusion.
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow, read one of these Spencer books and you realize how much you miss Robert B. Parker.
Becky Loader
May 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
I now remember why I didn't read the entire Spenser series. He is really a smart aleck and offensively sexist. ...more
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Early Autumn by Robert B. Parker 8 41 Nov 30, 2014 05:10PM  
Mansfield Public ...: The"Early Autumn" review by Suzanne Dowling 1 4 Aug 05, 2014 11:49AM  

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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 49 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)
  • A Savage Place (Spenser, #8)
  • Ceremony (Spenser, #9)
  • The Widening Gyre (Spenser, #10)
  • Valediction (Spenser, #11)

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