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Robert B. Parker's Cheap Shot (Spenser) Hardcover – May 6, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Kinjo Heywood is a ferocious middle linebacker for the New England Patriots, but he has a penchant for off-the field violence as well. When he thinks he’s being followed, his agent hires Boston private investigator Spenser to find and discourage the followers. If a confrontation between Kinjo and his shadows occurs, Spenser will handle any rough stuff. But Spenser’s simple bodyguard duty turns serious when Kinjo’s 10-year-old son is kidnapped. Perhaps it was masterminded by the boy’s mother, Kinjo’s ex-wife. Nope. She has an alibi and is every bit as invested in the boy’s return as Kinjo. How about the current trophy wife? Nope again; Spenser eliminates her fairly quickly. Perhaps the kidnapping goes back to Kinjo’s possible involvement in a shooting death at a New York dance club. The three thugsters—Spenser, longtime running buddy Hawk, and Spenser’s protégé Z—employ their usual investigative techniques of intimidation and smart-ass repartee in the service of solving the case. Atkins’ third shot at the Spenser caseload shows steady improvement over the first two. Spenser is as tough and funny as ever, and Atkins has become a worthy successor. --Wes Lukowsky


“Spenser is as tough and funny as ever, and Atkins has become a worthy successor.”
— Booklist
“Assured... Atkins’s gift for mimicking the late Robert B. Parker could lead to a long run, the the delight of Spenser devotees.”
Publishers Weekly

“A well-conceived adventure that balances Spenser and friends’ experience with Akira’s innocence while drawing on Atkins’ own Auburn football days.”
 —Crimespree Magazine

Cheap Shot is the best yet, with a whip-crack plot, plenty of intriguing and despicable characters, and the lovable, relentless Spenser at its center….Atkins also has a deft way with Parker's style… Atkins is bringing his own energy and strengths to Parker's series. Cheap Shot is Spenser, by the book.”
Tampa Bay Times

“Atkins finds his footing this time, settling into the character and concocting a fairly complex caper with urban development, organized crime, and sex all playing roles….Quite a good crime novel.”—Booklist
“Solid… Atkins’s ability to perfectly mimic the originals will please diehard fans hungry for familiar pleasures.”—Publishers Weekly

“An entertaining effort.” — Kirkus Reviews

“These books are real gems…the old Spenser magic is back.”—Aspen Daily News

“Handpicked by the Parker estate to be the keeper of the flame for the Spenser franchise, award-winning author Ace Atkins rises flawlessly to the occasion. In addition to the signature dialogue, all the familiars are fully resurrected: Susan, the sexy shrink; Pearl, the wonder dog; Hawk, the wonder sidekick; good cop Quirk, and, of course, Spenser himself, that consummate knight errant for the 21st century.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Even the most fanatical Parker fans would be hard pressed to identify any aspect of this Spenser novel that doesn’t read as if it were penned by Spenser’s late creator.…Atkins hits all the familiar marks – bantering scenes with Spenser’s girlfriend, fisticuffs, heavy-duty backup from the dangerous Hawk – as he offers familiar pleasures.”—Publishers Weekly
“A brisk read. Atkins gets the important things right, from Spenser’s dark sarcasm to the gritty attitude of Mattie Sullivan, a 14-year-old Southie girl trying to solve her mother’s murder.”—Boston Magazine

“Atkins succeeds. He doesn’t sound like somebody trying to emulate Parker…. Spenser, thankfully, sounds like Spenser. You also get the vivid sense of place, flexing of muscles and spare plot that were hallmarks of Parker’s 39 Spenser books….It’s a feat when a writer creates characters who live and breathe on the page and make readers care and keep coming back for more. To manage that with someone else’s characters, let alone with an icon like Spenser, is a minor miracle. Ace Atkins pulls it off.”—Chicago Sun-Times

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Product Details

  • Series: Spenser (Book 42)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; First Edition edition (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399161589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399161582
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (479 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ace Atkins is the New York Times Bestselling author of seventeen novels, including the forthcoming The Redeemers and Robert B. Parker's Kickback, both out from G.P. Putnam's Sons in 2015.

One of the best crime writers working today, Ace has been nominated for every major award in crime fiction, including the Edgar twice for novels about former U.S. Army Ranger Quinn Colson. A former newspaper reporter and SEC football player, Ace also writes essays and investigative pieces for several national magazines including Outside and Garden & Gun.

He lives in Oxford, Mississippi with his family, where he's friend to many dogs and several bartenders.

Find out more about Ace and his novels on his official website:, on Facebook Ace Atkins, and on Twitter @aceatkins.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on May 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover
After assuming the reins of the iconic Spenser canon, Ace Atkins didn't just breathe new life into the already healthy franchise; he has performed the seemingly impossible task of growing it. True to his practice of exceeding his own standards with each new novel, Atkins gives Robert B. Parker's long-running series one of its best installments to date with the newly published CHEAP SHOT.

One of the many points of Boston’s pride is its professional sports teams, and CHEAP SHOT focuses on football. Atkins knows of which he speaks, giving the book a definite air of knowledgeable authenticity. Spenser is initially retained by the sports agent of Kinjo Heywood, a star linebacker of the New England Patriots. Kinjo reportedly has been stalked and harassed by some unknown subjects, and Spenser is tasked with finding out the who and the why behind it. He isn’t entirely sure if Kinjo is overreacting to the adoration of some overreaching fans, or if some blowback from a shooting incident in New York in which Kinjo was allegedly involved may be coming back to haunt him.

Then there is Kinjo’s ex, who isn’t happy at all about his current wife. For someone as popular and wealthy as he is, Kinjo should be a lot happier. In fact, it appears that his only true joy is Akira, his nine-year-old son. So when Akira is suddenly kidnapped, Kinjo’s entire world slips loose of its moorings.

Nobody, from Kinjo’s agent to the NFL to the FBI, wants Spenser within a hundred miles of the case --- nobody, that is, except Kinjo, who respects Spenser’s no-nonsense approach to getting things done and his willingness to tell things as they are.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on May 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The strength of the third Spenser effort by Atkins is that the author continues to demonstrate a strong feel for Parker's characters, Boston locales and story pacing. Cheap Shot features both Hawk and Zebulon Sixkill as part of the Spenser team as well as visits to Chestnut Hill, Charlestown and the Patriots facility at Foxboro. The action in this book is fairly straightforward as the Berkley Street Irregulars try to solve the kidnapping of a player's child before any harm can come to him. This impending peril creates more tension than in many of the other books in the series while also providing cover for the sometimes aggressive attention given by Spencer and company to suspects.

The only problem with Atkins' writing is embedded in this very strength. As he understandably tries to demonstrate to fans of the series that he can produce books similar to those of Robert Parker, the new author does not take chances with a formula that is starting to get a bit stale after almost 30 volumes. Even Parker varied his approach on occasion as in Spencer's pursuit of Susan Silverman in Catskill Eagle, alternating chapters from the serial killer's point of view in Crimson Joy and through the battles with the Grey Man. Now that Atkins has proved his command of this material, he can enrich the series with further character development. Even Ian Fleming began to show the effect of physical aging on his own legendary hero 10 books into the Bond series.

Overall, however, Atkins provides a great service to readers by bringing us new Spenser editions that could pass for books written by the series originator. He even extends in Cheap Shot the metaphor of private detective as Urban Knight, in this case comparing Spenser's crew to Ronin.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Spenser Amadeus on May 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I agree to some degree with the 2-star reviewer who wrote that this time around it seems as though Atkins tried too hard to include all things Spenser. This story wasn't bad and I give it 3 stars, but some details were just off the mark. For example, the book starts out during the NFL pre-season. Isn't that mid-August? Yet in this book, the leaves are falling off the trees and the people sitting in the back yard are shivering in the cold. Spenser and Susan go to a pre-season game all bundled up. I went to one in Pittsburgh last season in shorts and a tank top. And the climate difference between Pittsburgh and Boston is negligible. Another thing that drove me crazy throughout the book was that Atkins kept writing that Spenser would try "and" do this, and try "and" do that. You don't "try and" do something; you "try to" do something. I know I'm not the grammar police, but a professional writer should know better. And Spenser speaks so eloquently, I don't think he'd ever say it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte A. Danenberg on May 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While all the characters are there I was disappointed. No one seems able to catch the sparkle of Robert Parker's dialogue. Good plot here but writing is flat.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Greggorio! on May 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It takes only a few sentences of this new age classic for the reader to forget where they are, who they are and what they are doing and find themselves lost and completely absorbed into the leafy surrounds, the good guys and the bad guys of beautiful downtown Boston. This is the third Spenser novel written by Ace Atkins and it stands head and shoulders with the best Mr Parker ever wrote.

Big name NFL super star Kinjo Heywood hires Spenser to help him with the small problem of anonymous harassment that has the potential to turn nasty. Shots have already been fired by Heywood in defence of his family, and following legal advice, Spenser is brought in to find out who the baddies are and find out what they want. And to get rid of them.

It turns out in the past that Heywood liked the ladies and a nightclub shooting in New York which turned fatal all adds interest to the tale. But its the quality of writing by Mr Atkins which will turn heads and make the reader stop and re-read whole paragraphs just to make sure they don't miss something special. For example, taken from page twelve of this glorious hardcover:

' ... The child looked at us through the binoculars. When I smiled directly at him, he ran away. A strong wind rustled tree branches overhead. A bright sun shone across the tree fort, creating small pockets and insignificant shadows. Leaves fell and fluttered to the ground ... Crystal made another drink. I finished my coffee and said my good-byes ... I would start tomorrow. "

Reading this phrase for the first time, I have to ask myself what exactly is an insignificant shadow. I pause in mid-thought and decide to keep reading.
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