Robert Parker's delicious new novel can almost be summed up in
three words: Spenser is back!
The longtime hero of Parker's original crime series has returned
with wit and wisdom intact. Despite how enjoyable the new Jesse
Stone series has proven to be, I freely admit to having missed
Spenser. As with a favorite chair, it's a true pleasure to settle
back into the comfortable repartee and down-and-dirty action that
only Spenser, Hawk, and Susan can provide.
In HUSH MONEY, Spenser takes on two new cases simultaneously as
favors to the most important people in his life. Hawk approaches
Spenser with a problem that at first glance seems distinctly out of
their usual line of fire. The well-published son of a good friend
of Hawk's has been denied tenure at the university where he teaches
American Literature. However, once Spenser and Hawk sink their
teeth into the raunchy backside of academia, the hallowed halls
will never be the same.
Robinson Nevins, a black conservative and therefore "something of
an anomaly" at the University, is convinced that his predicament is
the result of a smear campaign. Accused of contributing
to the recent suicide of graduate student Prentice
Lamont by virtue of an alleged sexual relationship,
Nevins insists that the tenure committee's process was
wrong...regardless of his sexual orientation.
As Spenser and Hawk attempt to uncover the motives of the committee
members who voted to deny Nevins tenure, they find a veritable
hornet's nest. Prentice Lamont was responsible for a publication
used as a means of "outing" prominent community members who
preferred to remain in the closet. As our dynamic duo investigates,
they come up against an idiosyncratic cast of characters that is
one of Parker's trademarks. The tenure committee members include a
politically correct white liberal feminist with hidden sexual
appetites and a hypocritical professor at the African-American
Center who triggers an interesting reaction in Hawk.
As the search into the connection between Prentice Lamont and the
committee members intensifies, so does Spenser's other case. Susan
asks Spenser to help her friend, K.C. Roth get rid of a stalker,
but she hasn't counted on K. C. acting out the predatory female
role with her man --- or on her own reactions to the attention
Spenser is attracting.
Spenser's search for K.C.'s stalker leads him to an ex-husband and
a married stockbroker boyfriend whose firm has ties to Prentice
Lamont. Just as more intertwining threads begin to appear, K. C. is
raped and Spenser revs up the investigation to find a way to
protect Susan's friend, even as she heats up her advances toward
HUSH MONEY has all the essential ingredients of the perfect Spenser
mystery: convoluted crimes, interesting characters,
personal investment in the cases, intelligent dialogue,
rock-'em-sock-'em action, romance, food, and those wonderful little
wisecracking winks that showcase Spenser as the most erudite ---
and fun ---private eye in detective fiction today. Throw in
academic politics, homophobia, a few white supremacists, and the
stakes rise. But when Hawk reveals something of his past and Susan
loses her cool, HUSH MONEY soars to even more laudable
Yep, Spenser is back! And Parker serves up a humdinger
of a good time as the white hats clobber the bad guys and take us
along for the rambunctious ride.
Reviewed by Jami Edwards on January 22, 2011