Rough Weather

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I'm engaged in reading Neal Stephenson's Anathem, which is awesome, but also massive and slow-going. When a new Spenser novel (36th in the series) from Robert B. Parker comes out, it's a good and easy excuse to take a small break.

In this one, our private-eye hero gets hired by famed gold-digger Heidi Bradshaw to perform some ill-defined duties for her daughter's wedding taking place on Tashtego, a small private island off New Bedford, MA. Events unfold quickly: on page 15, Spenser's old nemesis, the Gray Man, appears on the island as well. Around page 32, the Gray Man and his gang invade the marriage ceremony, shoot up a bunch of people, and abscond with the bride. Spenser is helpless to thwart this.

So Spenser spends the rest of the book correcting this embarrassment. The motive for the crime is mystifying, and (as usual) things are not as they seem. Many of the usual cast of characters appear: Susan (of course), Hawk, Quirk, Healy, Tony Marcus, etc. (I sometimes wonder: how does it work out for the hapless reader who decides that book N in the series will be their first-read, where N ≫ 1; is that just too painfully confusing?) My first was Mortal Stakes, N = 3, well over 30 years ago.)

Anyway, a good, fast read. Spenser is, as always, as quick with a wisecrack as he is with his trusty Browning. His relationship with the Grey Man is intriguing, and you won't get any spoilers from me about how it turns out here. I found the plot, especially the (eventually) revealed motivation behind it all, to be unconvincing, and the resolution ludicrous. On the other hand, if that's the way Parker says it happened, then that's the way it happened. I'm not going to tell him otherwise, are you?

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:35 PM EST