Slow Burn

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I've said it before: Ace Atkins does a miraculous job of maintaining Robert B. Parker's Spenser character. Right up front, Spenser quotes the first line of a Yeats poem to Henry Cimoli, off the top of his head.

Yes, I had to look it up to nail down the source. I'm not as literate as Spenser.

The first chapter introduces the bad guys: a trio of losers decides to start fires around Boston, their loose justification being that it will bring increased funding for the Boston Fire Department. But that's a thin disguise for their pyromania. Spenser is hired (pro bono) by a firefighter who lost three comrades in a church fire he suspects was set.

Spenser has, over the years, negotiated an uneasy truce with the city's old guard gangsters. But his investigation runs him headlong into a relatively new kingpin, Jackie DeMarco. DeMarco just wants Spenser dead, thanks very much. I'm not too worried about Spenser; are they going to kill off the series moneymaker? But I'm not too sure that some of his associates won't wind up as collateral damage. (No spoilers.)

Bottom line: a fine addition to the series. Mr. Atkins has settled into Robert B. Parker's shoes, doing Spenser right.