Spenser fans everywhere are going to love this book. Although Spenser was raised by his father and uncles in Laramie, Wyoming, 14-year-old Bobby Murphy almost comes closer to the childhood many longtime fans envisioned for Robert B. Parker's signature character.
Bobby Murphy is a wonderful, though idealistic, protagonist. He's more or less the brains and eventual leader of a five-man junior varsity basketball team called the Edenville Owls. They ended up calling themselves that because the only uniforms they could find were all yellow and featured owls on them. He's on the cusp of young adulthood, just starting to notice the finer intracacies of the world: such as the opposite sex and problems in the adult arena that normally stay behind closed doors.
After his last teacher was removed from the school, Bobby and his class got a new teacher: Miss Delaney. Miss Delaney is young and beautiful, the perfect teacher for a young boy on his way to becoming a man to fall in love with. However, Miss Delaney also apparently has some dark secrets.
While in detention, Bobby and one of his friends sees Miss Delaney arguing with a man. After a heated exchange, Miss Delaney slaps the man. Bobby shouts at the man to leave her alone, then he and his buddy charge to the rescue but are made to return to detention. Later Miss Delaney asks Bobby to forget he ever saw anything. In just those few moments, Bobby's plunged into a mystery that will tear away a lot of his remaining innocence as he pursues the truth of who the man is and exactly what's going on.
Three main storylines weave throughout the book: the mystery involving Miss Delaney, Bobby's work to bring his basketball team to the state tournament, and his evolving relationship with Joanie, a girl he becomes friends with that eventually comes between him and Nick, one of his best friends. Any one of the stories would be enough to keep a reader turning pages. That they're all together and complement each other well is just excellent writing.
Parker is going to take a lot of heat over Bobby, though. Bobby thinks like Spenser. He acts like Spenser. And both characters are troubled over the same vagaries of life. But these are the themes that Parker constantly writes about.