Sunday, May 20, 2012

Biblio Babble: Stepping Into The Shoes of a Master

The Book: Lullaby: A Spenser Novel

The Writer: Ace Atkins steps in for the late, great Robert B. Parker.

The Dealio: Sharp-talking, Southie-dwelling 14 year old Mattie Sullivan  is Spenser's latest client. What she wants is justice and some closure in the matter of  her mother's murder  four years ago. One hapless mook is in the joint doing time on the rap, but Mattie, who witnessed her mom being hustled into a car by two well known drug dealers  the same night she was killed, knows, just knows, that they got the wrong man. She  hires Spenser (for the price of a dozen doughnuts: six chocolate glazed, six cinnamon-topped) because he looks like a tough-guy. But, Mattie is tough, too and used to handling things herself. Naturally, she has to add one condition: she's gonna  be in on all the important stuff. Much in the manner of True Grit, but without Rooster Cogburn, the couple heads up a mismatched crew including Hawk and all the usual players, hell-bent on finding out what really happened that night. And why both Mattie and Spenser are suddenly the focus of a long-dormant crime family. Good stuff, this, with lots of snap and sassiness, irony and smart-aleckiness. Welcome back, Spenser. You have been missed.

The Grading Session: 4.79 pengies out of 5. It is wonderful to have Spenser back again. Although many carp that Atkins is not letter-perfect, I find loads to like about this incarnation of Spenser and company. I look forward to more. And not very patiently.

Lessons Learned: No one will ever replace Robert B. Parker, but Ace Atkins fill-in role is as  sleek a fit as a broken-in just right Braves cap. Also this: it is such a pleasure to listen to these stories on audio CD. Joe Mantegna has done Spenser in the past- and I hope he continues to read these tales. Perfecto!

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