Thursday, January 21, 2010

Favorite Robert B. Parker Book

This morning on Twitter, David Thompson of Busted Flush Press and Houston's Murder By the Book asked, "What's your favorite Parker book?"

Mine is Promised Land (1976), the fourth book in the series, Hawk's debut. The case involves real estate developer Harv Shepard and his runaway wife. Unknown to Spenser at first, Shepard is also involved with crime boss King Powers, who sends Hawk as his enforcer.

Meanwhile, Spenser's relationship with Susan Silverman was only two books old, and white-hot. In Promised Land, Susan tells Spenser, "I love you," and Spenser balks. Near the end of the book, he proposes marriage, but Susan balks, and so their complicated yet completely unique commitment began to define itself.

Before Hawk spent several books as Spenser's doughnut-eating best friend, he was the toughest adversary Spenser ever faced, all the more threatening for how well he knew Spenser and how well matched they were in skill and physique. As the legend went in Pastime (1991), Spenser and Hawk used to box on the same card. They even fought each other once, but the result was never revealed to readers. After the bout, racists ganged up on Hawk, and Spenser helped him fight them off.

Because Spenser continues to respect Hawk despite who pays him, instead of killing Spenser for Powers at the end of Promised Land, Hawk turns on Powers. It's the most tension I've felt reading Parker. The book won Parker his only single-work Edgar® Award and inspired the pilot episode of Spenser: For Hire.

Feel free to comment with your favorite Parker book.


Ali Karim said...

I have a soft spot for The Judas Goat, becuase if memory serves correctly, Spenser and Hawk travel to London in that one, but it's been a while


Gerald So said...

You're right, Ali. Spenser travels to London on the trail of terrorists in The Judas Goat.