From Publishers Weekly
At the start of the lackluster 38th Spenser novel from late MWA Grand Master Parker, the iconic Boston PI agrees to protect art historian Ashton Prince during the exchange for cash of a rare painting held for ransom, 17th-century Dutch artist Franz Hermenszoon's Lady with a Finch. When a bomb kills Prince during the botched exchange, Spenser naturally plans to even the score. And naturally, Spenser's probing--into the painting's complex history, Prince's twisted life, the museum that owned the painting--leads to violent reactions. Spenser's habitual wisecracking often comes across as merely smart-alecky, but as always he backs the attitude with performance. While this crime thriller is short on the kind of grit and character that earned Parker (1932–2010) an Edgar Award and numerous Shamus nominations, fans should still relish this probably final opportunity to enjoy the inimitable Spenser, who made his debut in 1973's The Godwulf Manuscript.
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*Starred Review* In Spenser’s end is his beginning. In this posthumously published novel (Parker died in January), the Boston PI tries to retrieve a priceless work of art and deals with the rarefied and nasty world of academics, as he did in his very first caper, The Godwulf Manuscript (1973). Thirty-seven novels later, Spenser can still nail a person’s foibles on first meeting, still whip up a gourmet meal in a few minutes, still dispatch the thugs who haunt his office and his home, and do it all while maintaining a fierce love of Susan Silverman and English poetry (which he quotes frequently and always to good effect). The plot this time spins off from Spenser’s shame over the murder of a client, a college art professor who asked him to provide backup during a delicate ransom exchange for a rare seventeenth-century Dutch painting. Spenser, ever true to his modern-day chivalric code, cannot let himself off the hook for the professor’s death. His investigation unveils the professor’s avocation as a sexual predator of coeds, and it digs deeply into both the world of art theft (reaching back to Nazi thefts of great European works). Halfway through this thoroughly entertaining mystery, Parker writes a perfect valedictory for the much-loved Spenser: “Sometimes I slew the dragon and galloped away with the maiden. Sometimes I didn’t. . . . But so far the dragon hadn’t slain me.” Long live Spenser. --Connie Fletcher