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Potshot Hardcover – March 19, 2001

3.7 out of 5 stars 189 customer reviews
Book 28 of 41 in the Spenser Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Maybe Spenser's driven all the bad guys out of Boston. Which is too bad because on his home ground, the tough and tender PI and Hawk, his trusty sidekick, don't need a gang of other guys to do their work. And the hired guns they round up to help them clean out a nest of ne'er-do-wells who have the desert town of Potshot, Arizona, terrified aren't nearly as amusing as, say, John Dortmunder's criminal colleagues in Donald Westlake's caper novels.

The thugs who populate the Dell, a scrubby little enclave just outside of town, have the locals in their pocket, which is why the pretty blonde who hires Spenser to find whoever killed her husband points him toward the Preacher, who rules the Dell and its denizens. But Spenser's not as certain as his client that Steve Buckman died at the Preacher's hands. As our hero and his ethnically diverse but politically incorrect henchmen (one gay shooter, one Latino, one black, one Native American--all that's missing is Annie Oakley) investigate, it turns out that Spenser's right, as usual. The action ranges from Las Vegas to L.A., Atlanta to New Mexico, but much of it is a humdrum travelogue as Spenser rounds up his gang from all over the country to take on the Preacher and his musclemen. While Potshot isn't one of Robert B. Parker's best, it's still not bad. The one or two lines devoted to introducing Spenser's backup buddies don't begin to do any of them justice, and there's a lot more description of the artillery the guys pack than usual. But they do fill up the white space, and when the action lags, there's always Susan's dirty talk, shopping jones, and dietary obsessions to divert the reader. There's a midlife crisis somewhere in this evergreen series that's just waiting to erupt. Whether it's Spenser's, Susan's, or Parker's, however, remains to be seen. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

HThe Spenser series remains fresh after 28 novels in about 30 years. How does Parker do it? Through recurring characters as alive as any in fiction, and through exceptionally clean, graceful prose that links the novels as surely as do the characters. The author also refreshes himself through other writings the Sunny Randall series, for example, or Gunman's Rhapsody, a tale about Wyatt Earp that Putnam will publish in June. So even when Parker resorts to a bit of gimmickry, as he does here, the vitality of his storytelling prevails. The manifest gimmickry is Boston P.I. Spenser's corralling of sidekicks from previous novels Hawk, of course, but also gay Tedy Sapp from Hugger Mugger, sharpshooter Chollo from Thin Air, Vinnie Morris (from several novels) and a few others to deal with trouble in the Arizona town of Potshot. Spenser is hired by a sexy blonde to look into the shooting death there of her husband, who tangled with an outlaw group known as the Dell, which for years has extorted the citizens of Potshot. There's an eventual shootout, of course (there are enough parallels between this tale and that of Wyatt Earp to guess that Parker's forthcoming Earp novel inspired this one), but not before Spenser digs into the town's secrets, uncovering the expected but in detail, always surprising domestic mayhem and corruption. Genuinely scary villains, sassy dialogue, a deliciously convoluted mystery with roots in the classic western and Parker's pristine way with words result in another memorable case. (Mar.)Forecast: A BOMC Main Selection, this novel will hit the charts, as Spenser novels do. The gimmick involving the many sidekicks should only help sales and may even draw back a few readers who have strayed from the series.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 294 pages
  • Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons; First Edition edition (March 19, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399147101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399147104
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #712,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As an avid Spenser fan for the past 15 years, I bought this book the day it came out. After devouring it in one sitting - my son went to bed early that night! - I am left with very mixed emotions.
The story itself is good, but not great. Mary Lou Buckman hires Spenser to find out what happened to her husband in the half tourist trap/half backwater town of Potshot, AZ. As always, the beautiful blonde client is honesty-challenged, the wife of the local real estate broker is after him, and the head cop is involved (think Walking Shadow). This is not one of his better plot lines - see Sudden Mischief or Ceremony for a true mystery/whodunnit type book.
Reading Parker, however, always involves much more than the plot. His clean, elegant writing style and story pacing is without par, and no one delivers the dry humor the way Parker does. If Potshot were simply another in the Spenser series, I would be inclined to rate it three stars and chalk it up as a solid but not terrificaly distinguished entry.
I have read some of the other reviews of this book, and a few people seemed to catch on to the fact that something is changing in the world of Spenser. This book has the feel of a farewell, and speaking as someone who has read this series since my teen years, that really bothers me. The clues are there: Spenser rounded up EVERYONE of distinction from his previous novels (he even included a brief reference to Mei Ling, the Chinese student who served as a translator and Hawk's girlfriend in Walking Shadow), he mentions that the beloved Pearl is getting old, and even Susan contributes to the feeling by giving up shopping (!) to take a long drive with Spenser. Minor details, I realize, but it definitely gives the book a different flavor from all the previous entries.
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Format: Hardcover
It is always a pleasure to read a Spenser novel by Robert B. Parker. He has written another winner with his new novel, "Potshot". Mary Lou Buckman hires Spenser to find out who killed her husband, Steve. Spenser must go to Potshot, Arizona where the Buckmans lived and where the murder took place. As he investigates, he finds that many people believe that someone in the Dell killed him. The Dell is a group of thugs who collect "protection" money from businesses in Potshot. Their leader is known as The Preacher. Then a group of Potshot VIP's hire Spenser to rid Potshot of the Dell. Spenser can solve the murder alone, but will need a small army to take on the Dell. He hires Hawk and Vinnie Morris from Boston, Tedy Sapp, a bouncer from Georgia, 2 Los Angeles thugs, and Bernard J. Fortunato, a tough guy from Las Vegas. Things are never what they seem in Potshot. This is an excellent addition to a long-running series, one of the best in American crime fiction.
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Format: Hardcover
When Spencer first talks to Mary Lou Buckman about investigating the death of her husband he knew it would be a tough job. After all, the suspects were a gang of 40 ne'er-do-wells living in the hills around Potshot, Arizona. These western gangsters had recently been organized by a sociopath known as 'The Preacher,' and were terrorizing the town.
A visit to Potshot Spencer that there is something rotten going one. The town, nestled in the mountains was a Mecca for those suffering from urban flight syndrome. Aside from the Preacher and his 40 thieves Potshot's resident population includes a suspiciously inactive police force, a non-productive film producer and a real estate salesman with a way oversexed wife. Spencer quickly discovers that it isn't just Bebe the real estate women who is oversexed. It's seems that almost all the cast has had some history with each other.
Realizing this was far more than a one-man job Spencer heads back to Boston to assemble a militia of tough guys that reads like the Robert B. Parker hall of fame. Naturally Hawk is included, and Vinnie, another Boston professional, Tedy Sapp from Georgia, Bernard J. Fortunato, and finally Chollo and Bobby Horse from Los Angeles. This adds up to seven, and if you are getting the feeling that Parker is parodying The Magnificent Seven a bit, you might not be wrong.
In addition, while investigating Mary Lou in Los Angeles Spencer is menaced by two employees of Morris Tannenbaum, one of the big West Coast gangster chiefs. It's pretty clear that all is not what it seems, but Spencer is unable to resolve his suspicions.
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Format: Hardcover
Recently, Parker has been a letdown. From Thin Air on, his books have lost a lot of their luster, but then Hugger Mugger (his last Spencer) came along and I had hopes that the series was coming back. Potshot goes a long way to undoing the damage done by the few bad books in the series. In this book, Spenser finds himself out of Boston and in the middle of a town in the desert used as a getaway by rich people. His client wants him to chase out a gang of toughs that have apparently killed her husband. To deal with the militant group, Spenser calls forth a whole rogues gallery of people that he has run across in previous books: From his affable sidekick Hawk, or the silent mob gunman Vinnie, and the dangerous hispanic Chollo, to the gay bouncer, Tedy, from Hugger Mugger, the gang's all here. Spencer quickly ascertains that not everything is as it seems and continues to poke his nose in every place that it is not welcome. Fans of the Susan Silverman character might be disappointed as she is not in the book much. To those critics who feel that this rogue's gallery of characters is a selling ploy, I can only shrug. Some of the best points in this book came from the scenes where this mishmash of thugs were just trying to get along. Parker's wit is as sharp as ever and his descriptions are concise and powerful. He is in top form. My only gripe, if this can even be called a gripe, is that this is an incredibly quick read. I finished it the day that I received it. Although I generally recommend that people start at the beginning of the series so they can get a full grasp of all the characters and relationships involved, but I can see no reason why newcomers wouldn't enjoy this novel. A must!
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