Robert B. Parker's iconic private detective, Spenser, is back in a new novel by sportswriter Mike Lupica, who has been tasked by the Parker estate to take over the series that has been written with great skill over the past decade by novelist Ace Atkins. (Parker passed away in 2010.)
Over the past few years, Lupica has been continuing two other Parker series, one featuring a small town police chief named Jesse Stone and the other a female Boston private detective named Sunny Randall. To use sports parlance, he's been warming up in the bullpen, and now he has a chance to take on Spenser, the literate Boston private eye created by Parker and featured in his first novel, 'The Godwulf Manuscript," in 1973.
"Robert B. Parker's Broken Trust" begins as so many Spenser novels have - our hero is in his office, drinking coffee, eating doughnuts, perusing the Boston Globe spots pages and bemoaning the performance of the Red Sox. That's when the wife of the sixth-richest man in America walks in the door, asking him to figure out what has been troubling her husband to the degree that he is behaving in uncharacteristic ways.
Spenser, of course, takes the case - the woman happens to be a friend of his longtime paramour, Susan Silverman. But the case gets complicated pretty quickly - much of it takes place in the world of technology innovators - as Spenser tries to unravel the mystery with the help of Hawk, the ever-present sidekick who would hate being called a sidekick.
I thought "Broken Trust" was entertaining and well-plotted - it is clear the book has been written by someone who loves and respects the series (and was a friend of Parker before his death). And Lupica certainly knows Boston - he went to Boston College, and has a strong sense of the city's history and geography, which adds to the verisimilitude.
I interviewed Parker about a thousand years ago (actually it was 1986 - it just feels like a thousand years ago), and one of the things he emphasized was that he believed people liked the book for the music of the language. He was proud of that - the beats and the tone and the patterns of the language. One of Ace Atkins' great accomplishments was that he managed to capture the musicality of the language without being imitative, but I'm not sure that Lupica is quite there yet. The patter is snappy without quite being musical.
But that's okay. It always is great fun to hang out with Spenser, and Lupica acquits himself well. He quickly disposes of a couple of hanging plot points that Atkins left for him - in one case, I feel bad about it, because it concerned Hawk and I really wanted to see it play out.
But no worries. "Broken Trust" is a gift to anyone who loves the Spenser novels and the Parker tradition. If Lupica wants to keep churning out one a year for the foreseeable future, he can count on me to join him for the ride.
I'm not sure if you've seen it, but a couple of weeks ago a video version of "Like My Dog," one of the songs on Jimmy Buffett's last album, "Equal Strain on All Parts," was posted.
I want to offer it here because I know we have a lot of dog lovers in the MNB community. (We have three, all of whom are asleep here in my office - one wrapped around my feet under the desk - as I write this.) The great thing about the video is that it was created in collaboration with the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) to encourage pet adoption and features some clips contributed by Parrotheads.
I have a couple of nice reds to recommend to you this week. First, the 2021 Planet Oregon Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley - it is from the folks at the estimable Soter Vineyards, who use sustainable farming techniques to create a wine that is juicy and medium-bodied. Great stuff.
And then, there is the 2016 Chateau Marquis de Terme Margaux from France, which is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot, and 100 percent terrific.
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.