51 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Book with Which to Spend a Cool Fall Weekend
The 37th installment of Robert B. Parker's series featuring the detective with no first name opens with Spenser in familiar surroundings. He's alone in his Boston office when a woman shows up in need of his services. This may seem familiar to fans of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, who introduced us to their famous fictional detectives, Sam Spade and Philip...
Published on October 13, 2009 by Bookreporter
142 of 172 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars RICK "SHAQ" GOLDSTEIN SAYS: "SEXUALLY... SPENSER & SUSAN ARE LEGENDS IN THEIR *OWN-MIND*!
Sadly the days of the hard hitting... hard shooting... unyielding... snappy repartee... private detective Spenser... are no more. The former "MAN'S-MAN" who spent untold hours with the tough rough-edged men on both sides of the law... is now more content to exchange double-entendre's with the always annoying Susan. In between the relentless honey-dripping dialogue in...
Published on October 7, 2009 by Rick Shaq Goldstein
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51 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Book with Which to Spend a Cool Fall Weekend,
The 37th installment of Robert B. Parker's series featuring the detective with no first name opens with Spenser in familiar surroundings. He's alone in his Boston office when a woman shows up in need of his services. This may seem familiar to fans of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, who introduced us to their famous fictional detectives, Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, respectively, in a similar manner. But while the opening seems the same, Parker has taken the PI novel much further than his renowned predecessors ever did as he reinvigorates the somewhat stilted genre.
Longtime fans will find much to enjoy in THE PROFESSIONAL. The case appears straightforward: the woman who arrives in his office is a lawyer representing four rich married women who are all having affairs with the same man, Gary Eisenhower. Their husbands are older men in prominent positions. Eisenhower blackmails them with audio and video evidence of their trysts. Spenser starts investigating the case right away. He states, "But there was something wrong with the whole setup. Everything kept turning out not quite what it started out seeming to be." Something is awry, a staple of detective fiction, but Parker brings everything to a new level with his latest Spenser story,
One of the things that throws a curveball into the case is that not only is Eisenhower not afraid of the cops, but none of the alleged victims of the crime are willing to press charges. And at least one woman sees no reason not to keep sleeping with Eisenhower! Since Spenser does not take money to rough up people or bump them off, the case is apparently at a dead end. He wishes the women good luck and leaves. But as fans know, Spenser just cannot let go as he tells the reader, "Nobody was paying me to do anything. On the other hand, nobody was paying me to do nothing, either. Business was slow. I was nosy. And I had kind of a bad feeling about this long running mess that I'd wandered into and hadn't done a lot to improve." And soon, dead bodies start popping up in true hard-boiled fashion, and Spenser's choice to stay involved is cemented.
Due to Parker's adept writing, the reader can't turn away, either. Parker is called the dean of crime fiction, a title he richly deserves. He is a true master. Each Spenser book offers a clinic on how to write a fast-moving, entertaining novel. The chapters are short, the scenes are cinematic, the dialogue is crisp, and the writing is something both Hammett and Chandler would have tipped their hats to. Consider this:
"I sat at the bar and ordered a beer. The bartender was a red-haired woman with an angular face and skin you could strike a match on."
It does not get much better than that. Parker possesses the great writer's knack that he actually makes writing look simple when it's really not. This series has taken the detective novel into a new millennium. His plots could have been ripped from the headlines: powerful people caught in webs of sexual intrigue. But his real contribution to the genre is that the Spenser novels in recent years have recognized that it is no longer just about good guys and bad guys. Today, we live in a world with all sorts of shades of gray and the real bad guys are often insulated in corporate and financial towers. Parker does not just give us paint-by-numbers genre books but novels in which he layers complications upon complications. And sometimes justice is imperfect, and our hero has to do the best he can and move on.
THE PROFESSIONAL is the perfect book with which to spend a cool fall weekend. May Robert B. Parker continue to give us our yearly visit from Spenser for many years to come. We could not ask for more.
--- Reviewed by Tom Callahan
142 of 172 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars RICK "SHAQ" GOLDSTEIN SAYS: "SEXUALLY... SPENSER & SUSAN ARE LEGENDS IN THEIR *OWN-MIND*!,
Sadly the days of the hard hitting... hard shooting... unyielding... snappy repartee... private detective Spenser... are no more. The former "MAN'S-MAN" who spent untold hours with the tough rough-edged men on both sides of the law... is now more content to exchange double-entendre's with the always annoying Susan. In between the relentless honey-dripping dialogue in which Spenser constantly reminds the reader Ad Nauseam that Susan is the most beautiful woman in the world and would look like a runway model even if she wore a ten-year-old unwashed mechanics uniform... Susan dutifully returns serve to Spenser... by unrelentingly jogging the reader's memory as to Spenser being the stud of all studs. And of course for experienced Spenser fans you know it has to be stated at least three times per "short-story" that assuredly Susan has a Ph.D. from Harvard. The concept of the crime to be investigated that this saga is built around is hard to swallow. A female lawyer approaches "Stud" Spenser representing four rich women who all have a similar M.O. They married rich older men... and they're all having adulterous sex with the same man Gary Eisenhower. And now Gary whose real name in a prior life was Goran Pappas is blackmailing all of them with sex tapes of their escapades. Even for a light hearted Spenser tale the fact that all four women still want to keep the amorous affairs alive seems farfetched. Where all credibility dissipates is when for some unknown reason Spenser takes a liking to Eisenhower/Pappas.
Parker dutifully reaches into his extensive collection of former notorious Spenser characters... if not physically in the non-action... they are at least mentioned by reputation... such as... Rita Fiore, Tony Marcus, Junior, Ty-Bop, Vinnie Morris, Chollo, Frank Belson and Quirk among others. But as is Parker's wont of late... they're not given any hard exciting action.
And of course there is everybody's favorite *HAWK*. If a character could miraculously come to life... Hawk would have an unbeatable lawsuit against Spencer for reasons of neglect and emasculation. Hawk has become nothing but a chauffeur and sometime babysitter... along with being "eye-candy" and the immediate desire of any woman in any situation... except when Susan is raining studly double entendre's on her snookums... that big hunk Spenser. A full literary character castration is performed on Hawk when he has a book at a bar and Spenser says: "WHAT'S THE BOOK?" Hawk responds: "THE NEW ONE BY JANET EVANOVICH." Oy vey! Parker's use of Hawk in the last few years is equivalent to having a souped-up Ferrari locked in your garage that is never taken out on the street.
Long time Spenser fans won't be shocked when I tell you that once again Spenser won't quit a case even when he's no longer being paid... thank goodness Susan has a paying job and in case you forgot from the three times you are told that she has a "Ph.D. from Harvard"... late in the book she also says: "IF I WEREN'T A SOPHISTICATED PSYCHOTHERAPIST WITH ADVANCED DEGREES FROM HARVARD, I MIGHT BE FAINTLY SHOCKED."
How about a stand-alone series for Hawk? I'm sure we'd all love it, *WE'D BE FOOLS NOT TO!*
54 of 64 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Painful as it is to say maybe it's time....,
This review is from: The Professional (Thorndike Core) (Hardcover)
To put Spenser out to pasture. This latest Parker installment disturbed me on many levels. I can take the same tired dialogue repeated over and over. (We'd be fools not to.) I can take hearing that Susan went to Harvard how many times now? I can even take the large print and acres of white space that mean the book can be read in just a few hours. But I am to believe that Spenser would take a liking to a parasitic blackmailer who preys on women? Spenser, the romantic who rides in on his white horse to save the fairer sex would work hard to save THIS guy's life? Please. This made no sense to me whatsoever. And in the end the whole blackmail part of the plot was much ado about nothing. Just a lame segue into the murders that made the first half of the book seem disconnected to the last half. There was no mystery there either. Anyone who didn't figure out who the murderer was just wasn't paying attention. Nor was the Of Mice and Men rip off any surprise either. Who didn't see that coming? The whole story just made me tired. Even the brief appearance of Hawk couldn't save the day.
For the first time ever I don't recommend reading a Spenser novel. If Parker is so tired of writing Spenser and Hawk that he gives such a poor effort then these characters should be respectfully retired before the final novels spoil the whole pot.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Second-Rate Spenser,
Parker seems to have been phoning them in recently, and this is particularly evident with his latest Spenser novel. The plotline is unbelievable and Spenser seems to act in wholly unrealistic ways, whether it be befriending a blackmailer or (for no good reason) shielding a murderer from the police. The dialog between Spenser and Susan has the feeling of having been written before, numerous times; in fact, just once, I would like to go through an entire Spenser novel without having to read Susan and/or Spenser commenting on the fact that she has a PhD from Harvard. I've always been a big fan of Parker's books, ever since reading The Judas Goat decades ago, but I think Parker should start emphasizing quality over quantity.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spenser Looks Out for the Bed Hoppers,
"The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death." -- Leviticus 20:10
Four youngish wives of older wealthy men have been intimate with the same man, someone who can upset their marriages in very fundamental ways. Spenser is called in to help. His sense of the situation shifts as he gets to know the players. Are there any innocents here? Probably not.
For most of this story, you will learn about the lusts and pleasures of irresponsible people. Now, some such stories attract readers because they are titillating. This one isn't. Other such stories draw an audience because there's a lot of humor involved. This one lacks that element. What it does have is a portray of some really shallow people enjoying themselves without much concern for anyone else. I thought that was a real downer.
Much like many of the more recent Spenser books, The Professional turns into a morality tale in the end. But it takes a long time to get there. It wasn't much worth the wait to me. I thought this was one of the weakest books in the series. These books require some interesting conflicts, difficult situations, chilling villains, and action. You will look in vain for those elements here.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars living on past glory,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
i buy all the Parker books and especially like the Spencer novels. After buying and reading this one my immediate reaction when i turned the past page was: what a waste of time.
if you are wondering if you should buy it, i vote no.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better recent Spenser entries, and a good way to go out...,
Those of us who stuck with the late Mr. Parker through the past 30 years or more did so, I think, to reward him for creating memorable recurring characters in quick-to-read tales. His novels are almost all dialogue, and most of the talk is witty. None of it is unneccessary. There are no 70-word descriptions about what autumn is like in Boston: he can do that in seven words. I admire this kind of brevity in books. The publishing world has too much of a penchant for wanting only 500-page epics that can be sold at maximum prices.
On the other hand: Parker's novels read so quickly that many years ago I stopped purchasing them and starting getting them at the library one day, and taking them back the next. I've saved a ton of dough that way, to the detriment of the Parker estate.
And sadly, in recent years the Spenser books suffered a notable decline in the cleverness of their plots and the freshness of their characters. But this one is pretty good. I resented interruptions in my consumption of it, and found the sexual references interesting. He neatly steals the essence of John Steinbeck's play and novel "Of Mice and Men" to make two supporting characters deeper and richer than their surface situation. Hawk and Susan and Vinnie make appearances, but this one really belongs to the victims, the apparent bad guy, and the hero.
I was very glad when Parker created Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall for books of their own. While the style of writing did not change much, the main characters were quite likeable and just different enough from Spenser. I think he was less succesful in his branching out to westerns and other situations, but a lot of criticism of Parker seems to be based on envy at his success. He made writing crime thrillers look way, way easy, and gosh, that's a hell of a hard thing to do. Rest in peace, Mr. P., and thanks for the memories.
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I guess he is just getting bored,
I have read all of the Spencer books, and most of Parker's other series. I got the sense while reading "The Profesional" that Parker is just bored with the entire series. The main plot characters are all very shallow, and quite unbelievable. Spenser seems too dull and uninteresting, except when entertaining or making love to his Susan. Hawk is almost non-existent as are Quirk and Belsen. Boo and Zel belong in a third rate black and white gangster film. Tony, Ty-Bop and Junior belong in a third rate black gangster movie. Do I really care about a side trip to NYC?
Did I enjoy reading the book? Yes, it was a pleasant afternoon diversion. Did I enjoy it as much as most of the other Spenser books? No. Will I buy and read the next Spenser book? Yes. The one after that? It had better be better.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars You'll read it in an hour.,
If you skip every section which includes the useless Susan Silverman, you'll still be left with a barely interesting short story. Don't get me wrong. I used to look forward to Spenser like a kid at Christmas, but Mr. Parker has run out of enthusiasm for the character. What a shame.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spenser, ever-gallant in a "place-holder",
This just in: Spenser finds women interesting. We know this because he tells us so. Frequently. More than one interesting woman fuels events in The Professional, Parker's front-line Spenser offering for '09. Within the first page or so, Spenser speaks of no less than 4 women who interest him. Of course, his primary interest is Susan Silverman, and he is nothing if not loyal. Still, interested.
He's hired by one of them to look into the affairs of a bunch of other women (of as yet undetermined interest levels) who are all having an affair with the same guy and are all being blackmailed by him. That would be the titular Gary Eisenhower, self-employed cad.
If ever there was a case for Spenser requiring the constant input of his Sugar Plum, this is it, and constant she is throughout The Professional.
As Spenser digs in, he comes to know Mr. Eisenhower and we see a certain affinity for him. It's kind of odd, at first, but when we think of Spenser's history, he's certainly had his "Swordsman Era", so a bit of appreciation for what Gary is pulling off can be understood. And of course it provides fodder for much cracking of wise between Spenser and Hawk.
As he interviews the women involved, Parker reminds us how women love to offer themselves to Ol' Spens in various and sundry fashions. It's always fun to watch, even if somewhat predictable. Look, you wouldn't want to see Springsteen without knowing he'd play "Born To Run", right? Ok, then.
Parker mixes in what are essentially cameos from both Hawk and Vinnie Morris, as well as some Underworld flavor courtesy of Tony Marcus and some new players central to the action; middle-level player Chet Jackson and his back-watchers Boo and Zell. Turns out one of the women in Eisenhower's orbit is Jackson's wife. Uh-oh. These three criminals are pretty much the center of action here, and the Mice-and-Men-like relationship between Boo and Zell provides a pleasant soft spot.
Parker takes his famously casual approach to events in The Professional, but eventually the bodies do start piling up, and the book gains some altitude.
Developments allow Spenser and Susan to spend much time discussing the nature of love, obsession and morality, so if that's a big part of the series for you, The Professional will make you happy. If not, you'll still find plenty to like, as Parker scatters the usual blend of action, humor and thrilling heroics throughout.
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The Professional by Robert B. Parker (Hardcover - October 5, 2009)