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Chasing the Bear: A Young Spenser Novel Hardcover – May 14, 2009

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Chasing the Bear: A Young Spenser Novel + Painted Ladies (Spenser Mysteries, No. 39)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 500L (What's this?)
  • Series: Young Spenser
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel; 1St Edition edition (May 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399247769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399247767
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #629,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up—Parker's well-known detective hero, Spenser, reminisces to his beloved wife, Susan, about his Western childhood and workingman values bestowed upon him by his father and two uncles. The flashbacks derive from the lad's motherless household, in which Spenser is encouraged to throw punches at his uncles, who were accomplished boxers, and to learn how to defend himself against bullies. In another memory, young Spenser comes face to face with an angry black bear while bird hunting and stands his ground, though he is ultimately saved by his father's more powerful gun. This incident mentally prepares him for the dramatic tracking and rescue of a friend who was abducted by her abusive and alcoholic father. Parker's portrayal of Spenser's bravado in facing the bowie knife-wielding individual and escaping downriver is a compelling page-turner, and the man's demise shocking. This glimpse into the past explains much of the adult Spenser's backbone, though the stop-and-reflect method of storytelling may appeal more to adults than to teens who like their action uninterrupted, such as in his Edenville Owls (Philomel, 2007). Parker's dialogue-driven style and spare vocabulary are comparable to Gary Paulsen's The Beet Fields (Delacorte, 2000).—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

It was really only a matter of time. Having limbered up with two previous YA novels, Parker now begins a series starring his detective hero, Spenser, as a teen. He frames the narrative by having an adult Spenser relating childhood stories to the love of his life, Susan, an unnecessary device that might simply keep teens reading at arm’s length. Addressing how his tough and upright personality developed, it turns out he was reared by three of the toughest and most upright guys in town, his father and uncles. The men teach the boy that there’s legal, and then there’s right, and that “If it’s not worth fighting about, then it’s not worth a lot of mouth.” And wouldn’t you know it, there’s plenty worth fighting about, and even at a young age Spenser has perfected the art of the steely gaze and terse response. The morality questions that he cuts his teeth on involve a violently alcoholic father and an epidemic of racial bullying but mostly provide an opportunity to buttress Spenser’s almost corny—but undeniably entertaining—notion of manliness. A clean, sharp jab of a read. Grades 7-10. --Ian Chipman

More About the Author

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) has long been acknowledged as the dean of American crime fiction. His novel featuring the wise-cracking, street-smart Boston private-eye Spenser earned him a devoted following and reams of critical acclaim, typified by R.W.B. Lewis' comment, "We are witnessing one of the great series in the history of the American detective story" (The New York Times Book Review). In June and October of 2005, Parker had national bestsellers with APPALOOSA and SCHOOL DAYS, and continued his winning streak in February of 2006 with his latest Jesse Stone novel, SEA CHANGE.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Parker attended Colby College in Maine, served with the Army in Korea, and then completed a Ph.D. in English at Boston University. He married his wife Joan in 1956; they raised two sons, David and Daniel. Together the Parkers founded Pearl Productions, a Boston-based independent film company named after their short-haired pointer, Pearl, who has also been featured in many of Parker's novels.

Parker began writing his Spenser novels in 1971 while teaching at Boston's Northeastern University. Little did he suspect then that his witty, literate prose and psychological insights would make him keeper-of-the-flame of America's rich tradition of detective fiction. Parker's fictional Spenser inspired the ABC-TV series Spenser: For Hire. In February 2005, CBS-TV broadcast its highly-rated adaptation of the Jesse Stone novel Stone Cold, which featured Tom Selleck in the lead role as Parker's small-town police chief. The second CBS movie, Night Passage, also scored high ratings, and the third, Death in Paradise, aired on April 30, 2006.

Parker was named Grand Master of the 2002 Edgar Awards by the Mystery Writers of America, an honor shared with earlier masters such as Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen.

Parker died on January 19, 2010, at the age of 77.

Customer Reviews

Book was too short to my liking but, classic Spenser and a good read!
Dottie Armstead
I would highly recommend this book to any of the Spenser fans out there.
While this book is in the category of a Young Adult novel, I loved it!
R. A. Frauenglas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By JEFFREY MCGRAW on May 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think it is fair to say that I am a huge Robert B. Parker fan. That disclaimer having been allowed, let me say that Chasing the Bear, A Young Spenser novel, sets just the right tone for the adventures of the sleuth later in life. Told in flashbacks, it sports the themes familiar to all of Dr. Parker's fans. That of honor, keeping one's word and standing up for what's right. The fact that the Spenser in this quest is 14 years old is unremarkable for the attributes that make him the Spenser his public loves today are well grounded in substance. I had always wondered how this telling of background would have been accomplished. Yet accomplish it Parker does, with great aplomb.

The characters are fresh, but if you are expecting to see a young Hawk, or Quirk or Belson or Susan Silverman, you will be disappointed. Yet for a fourteen year old to read Chasing the Bear and leap to The Godwulf Manuscript is a pretty big leap. Hopefully, there will be a few more "Young Spenser" books dealing with his move to Boston, his time in the Army and his adventures with the staties before he became a private license.

I highly recommend this book and have purchased a copy of this book for my godson. Then its over to Edenville Owls and The Boxer and the Spy. One last thing, perhaps the vocabulary isn't as intense as a regular Spenser novel, but Robert B.Parker honors his audience by not talking down to them. No surprise there.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dennis E. Henley on May 14, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Spenser sits on a park bench relating his early history to his one true love, Susan Silverman.

No, it's not Robert Parker's take on Forest Gump. It's his attempt to explain Spenser the man by looking at Spenser the boy. Susan asks questions, Spenser answers them and we cut to the past to see Spenser being raised by his father and two uncles. We are shown an important incident from Spenser's boyhood and then we jump back to the park bench. Susan analyzes/interprets what we've just witnessed. There is some banter and then we're back in the past.

This is the structure of the novel and at times I wanted more. I really enjoyed those leaps back in time and I would have appreciated more detail and less park bench banter. Some of these flashbacks are vignettes. The missing details are filled in during the park bench scenes. I would have liked these vignettes to be expanded so that there would be no need to add missing details during the Spenser and Susan bits.

The glimpses we get of Spenser as a 14 year old boy - dealing with an alcoholic man who has kidnapped his daughter and with a race-based attack on a fellow student - are classic Spenser. He does what he does because he has no other choice. His code (taught to him by his three fathers) demands that he do what's right, even if he isn't exactly sure just what is right.

If the book has a flaw, it's that too much time is spent on that park bench. I really wanted more detail during the flashbacks. The park bench analysis seemed to interrupt the natural flow of the story. But I have to add that it didn't slow the story down by much. I read this book on my Kindle in under an hour and it met my all-time test for an engrossing work of fiction.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Lover of English on August 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I am a huge Spenser fan so I was really looking forward to this "novel" to get a glimpse into Spenser's early life. I was hoping for something new and fresh and unfortunately didn't find either.

First of all when I opened the book and saw the usual 1 1/2 line spacing and extra-wide margins I felt cheated. This tactic of fattening up a book to make it look more substantial than it is is extremely annoying. Secondly, this product is not a novel at all. It is simply a set of a few reminiscences that could have easily been folded into a regular Spenser novel. In fact two of the reminiscences had already been told in previous Spenser novels: the story of the bear and the story of how his father and his uncles disciplined a group of men who had harrassed young Spenser. There is no beginning, middle and end to this "novel". There is no conflict, there is no resolution, it is simple preachy. Parker fans have a right to expect something better from him. If he's at all concerned about his legacy he needs to continue to give us new material with each new publication and when he can no longer do so he should stop while his status as a best-selling author (with cause)is still intact. I'm still planning to read the next one which I believe is due out in October but I'm not going to buy any more of his books without previewing them through library copies first.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Meason Kolkhorst on June 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Let me start off as saying I am a huge Spenser Fan!!!! I am also a middle school teacher and really encourage the young adults in my classes to read anything they can (or are willing to).
The problem I have with this book is that it was advertised as written for a young adult audience, but was really written like a Spenser memoir. As a middle school teacher I feel that this book was not as good as "The Boxer and the Spy". As a Spenser nover it was a good short story, as a young adult story I feel that a teenager who did not know the history of Spenser would not get the point of why the two old people are talking about what is suposed to be a story about a 14 year old boy. It was good, but not a "young adult" story. Hopefully the future young Spenser novels will have less "Professional Spenser" and more "Young Spenser".
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