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Early Autumn (Spenser) Mass Market Paperback – April 5, 1992
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Primarily, through the books, Spenser has deep relationships only with Susan, and to a lesser extent, Hawk. We really don't know much about him beyond the front he puts up for his clients and his opponents. "Autumn" is the exception to that; we see him treat Paul in much the same way he must have been treated as a child and the same way he would have treated a child of his own, if he'd had one -- with respect and decency. He drags the 'real' Paul out of the shell Paul had constructed to protect himself from his parents and the world and provides him with a sense of worth, teaching him, as Spenser says himself, "what [he] knows" -- boxing, running, carpentering and standing up for something.
The end of the book always gets me. I've always been glad, too, that Paul makes further appearances in other books: Widening Gyre and Playmates, among others. It's interesting to see the relationship between Spenser and Paul grow and develop. It deepens Spenser as a character and gives us one more reason to like him.
But that's backstory. The front story is pitiful little Paul Giacomin, whose mother Patti has hired Spenser to protect Paul from his father, Mel. Both of Paul's parents are guilty of grand theft childhood in the first degree, and the book is less about detecting crime than it is about rescuing a life yet to be lived, but it makes for riveting reading nonetheless. I love how to books, and here Spenser shows us how to save a child.
It may still be a little too early in the game to call the Spenser novels some of the great twentieth-century detective fiction. There cannot, however, be any doubt as to the continuing popularity of, and loyalty to, the line of novels written by Robert Parker about the combination renaissance man/gumshoe. Over the twenty-odd years since The Godwulf Manuscript hit the shelves, Spenser fans have accumulated like mosquitoes in a light fixture. We've watched the characters, consistent over the space of more than twenty novels, grow and change, not just reflecting the spirit of the times (go back and read about some of the godawful getups Spenser dressed in in the mid-seventies, and you can easily imagine Spenser himself looking back and saying, "what WAS I thinking?") but reflecting real changes in the characters themselves. Robert Parker has
achieved something remarkable; he has given us a quarter century in the lives of a select few people in real-time (for the most part) without the storyline ever degenerating into soap opera.
Like all types of evolution/natural selection, though, it doesn't all go at a steady stream. Sometimes the changes in characters come in short, uneven spurts. Early Autumn is one of those, and while I can't swear to it, I suspect that this book has probably garnered more fans for the venerable franchise than any other. If there is a definitive Spenser novel, it is Early Autumn.
Spenser is hired by beautiful divorced socialite Patty Giacomin to recover her son Paul, who's been kidnapped by her ex-husband. Spenser finds the job remarkably easy, at least until the ex-husband sends muscle to try and get the kid back again a few months later.Read more ›
As for the book itself, it portrays a new and different Spenser; he kills no one in this book and vents his feelings about killing, he does not want to do it unless his life or one of his loved ones is endangered and killing becomes necessary to him. Self-defense is a good reason, Harry Cotton is killed by Hawk to protect Spenser, Spenser can not do it himself. Spenser meets Paul's parents first, before meeting Paul himself, and is not impressed by them. He is hired by Paul's mother to find and return Paul to her, he has been kidnapped by his father. This job leads to further meetings with the mother, she throws herself at him and Spenser turns her down. Now his eyes are opened, he starts to have feelings for Paul and is concerned about him. As a result he takes Paul under his wing and tries to make a man of him, according to his own ideas. Fortunately for all us readers his idea of a man seems to be sound and he starts working it on Paul. To do so, he must break the family ties and supplant them with new ones. To do so he must find something in Patty Giacomin's life she wants hidden and similarly for Mel Giacomin. Spenser succeeds and he takes over the kid's education. The novel shows the change and Paul benefits greatly.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love the Spencer books because of the writer's style. Spencer has a unique way of looking at things - understated might be the best description, and also very honestly. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Audrey Anderson