Early Autumn by Robert B. Parker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Spenser is hired by a divorcee to bring back her kidnapped son from his father, he gets more than he bargained for. Paul's parents are using him as a pawn and neither really want him around. Spenser winds up taking the kid under his wing and soon has someone gunning for him...
Of the Spensers I've read so far, this one is in the top three. While it has all the Spenser hallmarks, like a long description of cooking a meal, wisecracks, discussions of Spenser's code, and Hawk being the baddest mother since Shaft, it also has an offbeat plot. When Spenser sees what a callow slacker Paul is and decides to mentor the kid, the book starts firing on all cylinders.
Paul's parents are both human garbage and deserving of kicks to the crotch. Paul and his attitude irritated the crap out of me (and Spenser) at the beginning but the kid grew on me toward the end. Hawk was in fine form, although I could have used a little more of him. I still can't decide if Parker includes Hawk as a mirror to hold Spenser up against or someone to do his dirty work. Possibly a combination of both. Susan Silverman was more tolerable than usual but I found her jealousy and bitchiness toward Spenser spending time with Paul kind of juvenile.
The book shows its age a little but not enough to cost it any stars. It's clear the book was written in the early 80's with its references to self-actualization and disco. Also, Paul would be on the internet or playing video games all the time if it were written today.
This Parker guy might have a future in the book business. I'll pick up the next one. Four out of five stars.
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