Old Black Magic

[Amazon Link]

The seventh Spenser book written by Ace Atkins, and I'm still on board. I buy the Kindle version, which is fine. The cover is more incomprehensible than ever; I'm pretty sure no playing cards were involved in the course of the book.

Consumer note: some Amazon reviewers complain about the sloppy editing and careless writing. At least one thing I was able to verify: when Spenser is about to take off for Memphis, he reassures Susan about his dietary choices:

"Biscuits and barbecue never killed anymore."

Anymore? Ace, every writer makes dumb typos, but G.P. Putnam's Sons are definitely overpaying your editor.

Other reviewers, however, are misguided. One claims that a number of characters are described as "garden gnomes". That's easy enough to check in a Kindle version, and it's just one guy described that way.

Sigh, enough with that.

The plot: a dying detective named Locke has been trying to recover a famous painting ("The Gentleman in Black", by El Greco, fictitious) filched from a local museum twenty years ago. He asks Spenser to pick up the chase. Spenser must deal with recalcitrant museum trustees, who have hired a different shamus, a Brit to whom Spenser takes an instant dislike. His old cop friend, Quirk, isn't much help; the new Boston Police brass don't care for Spenser at all. Various mob guys, and mob-connected guys, manage to be unhelpful and also violent.

This is more of a detective story than is usual for Spenser, as he traces the artwork's path through a bewildering maze of crooks. He must also deal with others competing for multi-million dollar reward money.

Spenser is not so much interested in the reward; instinctively he (correctly) knows he'll never get it. But he is interested in getting Locke some justice and closure before he heads to those mean streets in the sky. And he does that pretty well.