In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero

by Otto Penzler, ed.
Smart Pop/BenBella, April 2012, $14.95

A distinguished group of friends and colleagues address various aspects of Parker’s life and work, among them Dennis Lehane, Jeremiah Healy, Loren D. Estleman, Brendan DuBois, and Reed Farrel Coleman. Specialized topics include Lindsay Faye on Spenser the chef, Gary Phillips on Hawk, S.J. Rozan (appropriately ambivalent) on Susan Silverman, Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens on the TV series (with episode list), and Ed Gorman on the westerns. Parker’s mock interview “Spenser: A Profile” and a listing of his books close out the volume.

Even if you think editor Penzler and heir-to-Spenser Ace Atkins way over the top in bracketing Parker with the Hammett/Chandler/Ross Macdonald triumvirate, his work is worth celebrating. He wrote individual sentences worthy of framing and placing above the computer screens of fellow writers. Parnell Hall captures the key to Parker’s appeal: humor in dialogue and narrative. Lawrence Block’s assessment comes closest to my own: “I was never the Ideal Reader for Parker’s work…. But I did read almost all of the books, and not because of the stories he chose to tell or the characters who peopled them. I just kind of liked the way they sounded.”

Jon L. Breen


Teri Duerr

by Otto Penzler, ed.
Smart Pop/BenBella, April 2012, $14.95

Penzler, ed.
April 2012
Smart Pop/BenBella