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Robert B. Parker's Cheap Shot (Spenser) Hardcover – May 6, 2014
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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
Praise for ROBERT B. PARKER’S CHEAP SHOT
“Spenser is as tough and funny as ever, and Atkins has become a worthy successor.”
“Assured... Atkins’s gift for mimicking the late Robert B. Parker could lead to a long run, the the delight of Spenser devotees.”
“A well-conceived adventure that balances Spenser and friends’ experience with Akira’s innocence while drawing on Atkins’ own Auburn football days.”
“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
Praise for ROBERT B. PARKER’S WONDERLAND
“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
Praise for ROBERT B. PARKER’S LULLABY
“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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Among other things, I was worried that Parker's wicked wit and timely, carefully aimed barbs were missing. Atkins has made a good correction is this department. The characters were once again witty when required, witty when unexpected, and witty because it was an integral part of their character.
"Cheap Shot" falls apart at the end of the story. The plot often meanders, and at the end doesn't involve one character who has been a mainstay throughout the first and middle parts of the story. The plot just fell apart at the end.
If the next book doesn't pull the characters and plot together, my interest in Spenser will evaporate.
Whoever "Ace Atkins" is--and for all I know he may be a piece of software programmed to generate Spenser novels--he has managed to capture not Parker's best, but certainly his average level, which is pretty damn good. The wise guy dialogue had me laughing out loud at points, the plot was fine but not great, the sidekicks were a little less cryptic than they are at their best--"Z" is not my favorite character. But he's toned down the susan/spenser fatuosity and turned up the smart aleck. Well done "Ace Atkins" whoever or whatever you may be.
On the other hand, I like Boston and mysteries so, while Parker always gets 5 stars, this book is "okay".