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Posted June 25, 2011
Parker. 'Nuff Said
This is Spenser if he hadn't had his father and uncles to raise him, and if he had suffered tough breaks early on. Burke is a man of honor and a deep sense of responsibility who's been broken by war and heartbreak. Unable to fit into post-WWII civil society in Boston, he turns to boxing to eek out a living and perhaps work through issues. He's not a great boxer, but his friend sees promise in him and enlists him as an enforcer for his bookie brother. Unable to reconcile violence against women and children with collections, Burke finds himself at odds with his employer. However, his employer respects Burke's position, even if he is mystified by the man himself, and he decides to recommend him for a job as a bodyguard. That sends Burke to NYC and introduces us to NYC crime bosses and a woman with whom Burke finds a connection, as they are both broken souls. Nothing lasts forever, though, and Burke is soon at odds with his new employer when Burke defends his charge's honor at the expense of two thugs and the lady's former boyfriend's ribs. (The boyfriend is the son of a business associate, and causing him harm was pole-vaulting over the line.)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
As a result, Burke leaves that job and lands a new bodyguard assignment protecting Jackie Robinson. Here is where the story is most compelling, for the two men have a lot in common and can identify with each other. In spite of their obvious racial difference, they have more in common than not - except that Robinson is not the broken man that Burke is. Duty, responsibility and honor are strong in both men, but Robinson is also an educated man (USC) who was able to take advantage of opportunities Burke never had in spite of being the white guy. Robinson also has the love of a good woman and the support of a community who needs Robinson to succeed. It's telling and interesting that in spite of knowing each other for a while, Burke never knew that Robinson had a wife until he drives him home after a game in NYC. "I never knew you were married," he says, not with a little bit of confusion. It never occurred to him that Robinson had any family at all, as Burke has none and doesn't think about it. Likewise, for Robinson it doesn't occur to him because he has never really thought about it either. It just WAS, and that was enough. Robinson and working for Robinson helps to heal Burke. Ironically, his dealings with another mob enforcer also help, as the two men share backgrounds, perspective and sense of duty and honor. You can see the beginnings of a Spenser and Hawk kind of relationship there.
As usual, Parker is on his game here. This is not a book about race and race relations, nor is it about the psychology of war vets or what happens to people who suffer hard times. It's about a relationship between two men and how they help each during a pivotal time in one of the men's careers. History is a backdrop. Interspersed among the chapters are recollections of childhood from someone named Bobby who talks about being a Dodgers fan in 1947. It helps give one a sense of place and insight into the times. However, all of that is secondary to the relationship between Burke and Robinson and how Robinson helps heal Burke through their association and friendship. This is fiction; so, we can't say this is exactly what Robinson endured or thought, but that sense of pride, honor, decency, responsibility are all there. The writing is crisp, witty and sparse. Parker doesn't do hyperbole or overly descriptiv
Posted July 19, 2007
Mystery writer Robert B. Parker tries his hand at this somewhat unconventional project a mix of fiction, non-fiction and memoirs. Injured WWII Marine Joseph Burke (fiction) returns from a tour of duty in the South Pacific to find that his wife has left him. Burke eventually finds work with organized crime figures which leads to his becoming the bodyguard for Jackie Robinson, who has recently been promoted to baseball's major leagues as a first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African American player to accomplish this feat (non-fiction). There's not much of a plot to the rest of the book basically Burke and Robinson (both thinly-drawn at best) dodge various threats based on either Robinson's skin color or Burke's various slights to organized crime figures during his prior employment. Interspersed throughout the book are sections titled 'Bobby' (memoirs) in which the author reminisces about his youth in Boston as a Dodgers fan (which must have been a lonely existence) while Robinson was making his major-league debut. Clearly this is a labor of love for Parker, and it's not a bad read but unfortunately there's not a lot to recommend it either -- stereotypical characters and a faint plot do not a great book make.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 23, 2006
A short pop out to right.
Not a bad book for a bargain pick up but nothing really special here. No real intensity and really no care for the main character. A quick read if that's something your looking for.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 30, 2005
Parker hits one to bestseller
I liked learnig about the challenges it was to protect jackie and though grusome at times quite interesting. The part about the ten gage was way to grusome and this book should never be able to get into the hands of kids. Furthermore the parts of him getting spiked and spat at and all that stuff was very educational.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.