Robert B. Parker's Lullaby (Spenser)
“The death of Robert Parker in 2010 did not slow the output of his Spenser books. Ace Atkins has taken over—and his writing is every bit as entertaining as the best of the Spenser novels.”
The death of Robert Parker in 2010 did not slow the output of his Spenser books. Ace Atkins has taken over—and his writing every bit as entertaining as the best of the Spenser novels.
Spenser is a smart mouthed tough guy with a heart of gold. He is Spenser with an S, and helps people who have to write it down by telling them it is spelled like the poet Edmund Spenser, author of The Faerie Queene, like, you know, the epic poem published in 1596.
The best characteristics of Spenser show up in this book. He’s eating Dunkin Donuts, whipping up meals out of whatever is in the fridge, and is head-over-heels in love with shrink Susan Silverman. There’s lots of his sidekick Hawk in this outing (of whom Parker was fond of saying shows Spenser’s dark side—literally—since Hawk is African American.
The new client in Lullaby is 14-year-old Mattie Sullivan. She lives in a South Boston housing project taking care of her younger sisters and alcoholic grandmother.
Mattie is sure the man in prison convicted of killing her junkie mom, didn’t do it, and she wants Spenser to find out who is responsible. Four years ago she saw two guys push her mom into a car, and neither of them is the guy now in prison, but she is blown off by the cops.
Readers may liken this plot to Early Autumn, in which Spenser rescues Paul Giacomin from his clueless parents. But Mattie’s a tough street smart kid, nothing like the suburban Paul. Spenser realizes he can’t teach her the stuff he taught Paul. A code of honor, requiring self-esteem, and toughness—how to be a man—that stuff he can handle. Girls are different.
Mattie is already tough: She’s grown up poor yet responsible and reliable. She understands junkie deaths in Southie are nothing new—her mom was a statistic, and although the investigation may have been pro forma, it looks solid. It’s tough enough to solve a case—why open one?
Mattie is quite sure of what she saw and needs someone to believe her. Maybe she is on to something because she gets picked up by some local tough guys. When Spenser escorts her away guys she calls them “dickless retards.” No amount of shrink talk from Susan is going to make her deal with the repercussions of her mom’s death until she finds out whodunit. She a great character and I hope we see more of her.
The King is dead. Long live the King.