With Lullaby, published May 1, Ace Atkins has deftly pulled off a difficult task, stepping in and continuing the good, popular Spenser series in the same voice, style and tone of its creator, the late, great Robert Parker.
I last interviewed Atkins, for his book The Ranger. He had recently been selected by the Parker estate to continue the Spenser series. Longtime Parker collaborator Michael Brandman was picked to continue Parker's Jesse Stone series.
But being asked to continue the Spenser series and actually writing the book are two very different things. So I, like many long-time fans of the Spenser series, approached Atkins first foray into the Spenser series with some worry and trepidation. Will he stick with the basic formula or make some changes, as Jeffrey Deaver did recently when he wrote his first book in the James Bond series?
I'm happy to report Atkins not only didn't mess with the formula but he wrote a book that was more reminiscent of Parker's mid-career books, back when they were even better than usual. The book has good dialogue and an excellent plot.
Atkins has his own popular series, which started with The Ranger. The book's protagonist is Quinn Colson, an Army Ranger who has returned to life in Wyoming. The second book in the series about Quinn is The Lost Ones.
Atkins, who blogs here, is a former journalist who earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination for a feature series he wrote while at the Tampa Tribune. He published his first novel by age 27 and was a full-time novelist by age 30.Some of his more acclaimed novels include Wicked City, White Shadow, Devil's Garden, and Infamous.
Just in case you were worried that Atkins book doesn't have the quick, fun dialogue of Parker's Spenser books I thought I'd give you a sample. This comes when Spenser is being bossed around by his new client, Mattie Sullivan, 14, who has hired Spenser because she thinks the man in jail for killing his mother four years ago didn't do it. The police and others don't seem to care too much about the killing since Mattie's mom was a drug-using prostitute. But still, she was someone's mom. Mattie also has to take care of her twin sisters and her grandma, a heavy drinker, isn't much help.