Review

Back Story: A Spencer Novel

by Robert B. Parker



I was about a third of the way through BACK STORY, the new Spenser
novel by Robert B. Parker, when I happened to get a call from an
older friend who had coincidentally first thrust a Spenser novel,
PROMISED LAND, into my hands many years ago. I told my friend that
I was reading the new Spenser novel and he mentioned that his
grandson, who is now in college, had just started reading them. The
reason that this is worth relating is that Parker is now writing
for three generations of Spenser fans, with no sign of slowing down
and, if BACK STORY is any indication, no sign of rust.

BACK STORY marks the return of Paul Giacomin, Spenser's almost-son;
though he has little involvement in the story, he is its indirect
catalyst. For he brings with him Daryl Gordon --- part friend, part
acquaintance, part associate and all troubled. Gordon, who is in
her thirties, has decided that she needs to put the death of her
mother, Emily Gordon, to rest. Emily was murdered some thirty years
ago when a leftist revolutionary group calling itself The Dread
Scott Brigade robbed a bank in Boston. Emily, who was visiting the
city at the time, was shot and killed in the bank while cashing
traveler's checks. No one saw who shot her and security cameras
were no help. And The Dread Scott Brigade
simply...disappeared.

Giacomin now brings Daryl to Spenser in order to help solve this
coldest of cases, a 30 year-old murder with no clues. As Spenser
begins to investigate, he is troubled by the lack of clues and an
apparently missing FBI file. Hawk is there to help, as is the
mysterious Ives who, in the short course of a page or three, almost
steals the book away. As Spenser follows the trail of the missing
FBI file and questions Emily's friends and family, he begins to
receive warnings from several quarters to back away from the
matter. This, of course, makes him all the more determined to
discover the truth behind the woman's murder. As the trail leads
from San Diego to Boston and back again, Spenser slowly but
methodically uncovers a web of passion, deceit and betrayal that
has lain fallow for decades. He is also confronted with a dilemma:
the truth is something that Daryl may not be prepared to handle.
Should he tell her, or should he let things stay as they are?

Parker, with BACK STORY, remains as amazingly consistent --- or
should that be consistently amazing? --- as ever. He also makes a
brief, but poignant, change in a major character, one that was
inevitable and not necessarily unexpected, but nonetheless
surprising. As always, highly recommended.

         

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

Back Story: A Spencer Novel
by Robert B. Parker

  • Publication Date: March 2, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 0425194795
  • ISBN-13: 9780425194799