Sunday, April 08, 2012


I'm a longtime fan of Smart Pop Books, which has previously published essay collections on such favorite topics as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, James Bond, and Firefly. In a blog post, editor-in-chief Leah Wilson muses that a P.I. of letters isn't Smart Pop's "usual fare," but publisher Glenn Yeffeth, "a huge Spenser fan," suggested the tribute. Having written a paper on Spenser once upon grad school, I'm oh-so-glad he did.

Not only do I know Spenser, I know the work of almost all the collection's contributors and have chewed the fat with them at least once if not many times. In several cases, the essayist is just the person a fan would want to weigh in on a given topic. For example, Ace Atkins, the Parker estate's choice to write new Spenser novels after Parker's death, reveals how much the Spenser books mean to him, how pervasive their influence on his life. Dennis Lehane, whose Kenzie and Gennaro books evoke his old Boston neighborhood the way Spenser did Parker's, describes Bostonians' distinct character. Lawrence Block, who impressively gives voice to several series characters, points out how identifiable and inimitable Parker's voice is. And in my favorite essay, S.J. Rozan takes on the polarizing Susan Silverman.

Sharing memories of meeting Parker over the years, several contributors brought him to life for me. As Spenser did time and time again, IN PURSUIT OF SPENSER delivers on its promise.

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