I always have a soft spot for Robert B. Parker's Spenser series. I just thought I should mention that before sharing thoughts on his novel, Hush Money.
Spenser is smart, witty, compassionate and very strong. I like to think I'm all of those things - well, except the strong one - so when a new Spenser book comes out I invariably read it, living vicariously through him.
There is a criticism of Parker's Spenser series which is sadly true: the books are going downhill. Bring out the stock characters - his long-time girlfriend, Susan, and his buddy, Hawk - and a few new antagonists and, presto!, a new Spenser story is born.
It's almost like having your favorite uncle come to town. Sure, he tells some of the same jokes but you still like having him around.
It's also true that each book seems to be a faster read, more like browsing a comic book than a novel. But they're also damn funny in parts, such as this exchange between Susan, a therapist, and Spenser where he is explaining how he will solve the case.
"'And if that doesn't work?' she asks.
"I'll ask you," I said.
"For some psychoanalytic theory?"
"What I think we should do is go take a shower and brush our teeth and lie on my bed and see what kind of theory we can develop."
'"I'm pretty sure I know what will develop.
Should we shower together?' Susan said.
"If we do, things may develop too soon.'"
Parker also manages to avoid having Spenser become just another tough guy private detective. How many books of this genre delve into the question of what makes a person a stalker?