A new Spenser novel by Robert B. Parker was the source of much joyous celebration at Pun Salad Manor. But Mr. Parker died, and his estate and publisher decided to continue the series with author Ace Atkins. The first of these efforts, Lullaby, was good enough to get me to invest in a Kindle version of the second one, Wonderland. And guess what? Wonderland is even better. My take was that Lullaby was 90% faithful to the Spenser universe; Wonderland is up around 98-99%. Ace has hooked me for the duration.
Henry Cimoli has been a minor character in the novels for decades: he's the owner of the gym where Spenser originally trained as a boxer, and where he and Hawk continue their fitness regimens. But now, Henry has a problem: a shadowy organization wants to buy the condominium complex where he lives. And they've been sending thuggish types out to mildly threaten the holdouts.
This is right up Spenser's alley: he's been out-toughing hired thugs forever. He and new apprentice Zebulon Sixkill make short work of that, and Spenser tries to work out who's pulling the strings. He nails that down pretty quickly too, and things seem to be working toward a speedy conclusion, … Waitaminnit, we're only like 35% done with the book? What can happen next?
Well, a body happens. Actually, a head, minus the rest of the body. I was surprised at the victim's identity. I did not see that coming.
Here's an example of the kind of thing I liked. Spenser is discussing a meeting with an ex-Harvard prof Rose with Mass State cop Healy:
"Not much," I said. "The man has no sense of humor."
"The problem is that you think you're funny, Spenser," Healy said. "A guy who taught at Harvard would find you juvenile."
People have been telling Spenser that he's not as funny as he thinks for, well, decades. I've been accused of the same. It's nice to see it in print again.