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May 24, 2012 / John Sheridan

Review: In Pursuit of Spenser

 

Kindle, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Publisher Samples

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I don’t often read books that would qualify for the Best Critical / Biographical Edgar which is where I think this collection is heading. The most recent book along those lines that I really wanted to read was The Lineup which was also edited by Otto Penzler and which came away with its respective Edgar award in 2010. <;<;Newsflash…..just purchased The Lineup, Kindle, Amazon UK>;>;

The issue with books like this is that they have I suspect a limited audience and in this case, even Spenser enthusiasts will be unlikely to read it as they’ll be too busy with Ace Atkins’ Lullaby (Kindle, Amazon UK).

Personally I can’t claim to have read a single Spenser novel – my reference point is Robert Urich and the Spenser For Hire tv series but after reading this I really want to pick one up as I particularly enjoyed the profile of Spenser by Robert B. Parker himself. This section is written in a back and forth interview format between Spenser’s character and a researcher which is intriguing as you gain insight into his motivations at the same time as witnessing Spenser’s laconic style in action.

Parker and Spenser don’t get a free pass though so you will be given insight into both the good and bad aspects. The sections provided by Dennis Lehane and Lawrence Block are particularly enjoyable for this very reason. I did find the book dragging at one point as an entire chapter devoted to his culinary skills (including recipe!) just went on too long. Overall this book surpassed my expectations so just maybe I will have to revise my opinion and if someone picks this up (even a non-Spenser fan like me) you might just find yourself drawn in and wondering which Spenser novel to choose.

My rating is 3.5 out of 5. Suggestions as to which Spenser novel to start with gratefully received via comments box.

Synopsis:
When Robert B. Parker passed in early 2010, the world lost two great men: Parker himself, iconic American crime writer whose books have sold more than 6 million copies worldwide, and his best-known creation, Spenser. Parker’s Spenser series not only influenced the work of countless of today’s writers, but is also credited with reviving and forever changing the genre.

In Pursuit of Spenser offers a look at Parker and to Spenser through the eyes of the writers he influenced. Editor Otto Penzler– proprietor of one of the oldest and largest mystery specialist bookstores in the country, New York’s The Mysterious Bookshop, and renowned mystery fiction editor whose credits include series editor for the Best American Crime Writing and Best American Mystery Stories, among many others (and about whom Parker himself once wrote, “Otto Penzler knows more about crime fiction than most people know about anything”)– collects some of today’s bestselling mystery authors to discuss Parker, his characters, the series, and their impact on the world.

From Hawk to Susan Silverman to Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall, from the series’ Boston milieu to Parker’s own take on his character, In Pursuit of Spenser pays tribute to Spenser, and Parker, with affection, humor, and a deep appreciation for what both have left behind.

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2 Comments

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  1. Jim Cliff / Oct 15 2012 6:44 pm

    I’m a little late to the party, although you don’t seem to have had any other suggestions, so here’s mine: Start where it all began, with The Godwulf Manuscript. Even 30 years on, it’s fresh and exciting, and it sets you up for the rest of the series, which you’ll no doubt want to start straight after.

    • John Sheridan / Oct 16 2012 9:17 pm

      Many thanks for that, I’ll be sure to start at the beginning so, usually the best place to start with most series.

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