"Spenser's back, just the way we like him." -New York Daily News
Back Story (Spenser Series #30)by Robert B. Parker
In Robert B. Parker's most popular series, an unsolved thirty-year-old-murder draws the victim's daughter out of the shadows for overdue justice-and lures Spenser into his own past, old crimes, and dangerous lives. See more details below
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In Robert B. Parker's most popular series, an unsolved thirty-year-old-murder draws the victim's daughter out of the shadows for overdue justice-and lures Spenser into his own past, old crimes, and dangerous lives.
A cold case leads to chills and thrills in this adventure of Robert B. Parker's tough, Boston-based private eye, Spenser. Over the years, Spenser has built up an impressive web of connections on both sides of the law. But he's going to need more than just connections to meet the challenges of his latest investigation, digging into the facts behind the death of a bystander named Emily Gordon during a still-unsolved bank robbery that took place 28t years ago. At the time, a band of revolutionaries calling themselves the Dread Scott Brigade claimed responsibility for the crime…but the authorities were never able to bring the criminals to justice. Any detective can tell you that answers are hard to come by even 28 hours after a crime. When hours turn to years, the difficulty level soars. Even a big fat fee wouldn't persuade Spenser to touch this case, if anyone but Paul Giacomin had brought him the case. But Paul is practically family, and he was asking Spenser to help his friend Daryl, the dead woman's daughter, to find the answers she needs to lay the past to rest. Soon Spenser is on the case, and up to his neck in everything from FBI cover-ups to Mob machinations. It doesn't take an old pro like Spenser long to realize that bringing to light the back story behind this decades-old crime involves uncovering public and private secrets that are still as deadly as ever. Sue Stone
''I did this work because I could. And maybe because I couldn't do any other. I'd never been good at working for someone. At least this work let me live life on my terms . . . and if you are going to live life on your own terms, there need to be terms, and somehow you need to live up to them. What was that line from Hemingway? `What's right is what feels good after?' That didn't help. I took a long drink of Scotch and soda. There was that line from who, Auden? `Malt does more than Milton can to justify God's ways to man.' I could see my face reflected in the window glass. It was the face of a guy who used to box -- the nose especially, and a little scarring around the eyes.''
Genre writing doesn't get any better than that.The Boston Globe
Read an Excerpt
It was a late May morning in Boston. I had coffee. I was sitting in my swivel chair, with my feet up, looking out my window at the Back Bay. The lights were on in my office. Outside, the temperature was 53. The sky was low and gray. There was no rain yet, but the air was swollen with it, and I knew it would come. Across Boylston, on the other side of Berkeley Street, I saw Paul Giacomin walking with a dark-haired woman. They stopped at the light and, when it changed, came on across toward my office. They both moved well, like people who'd been trained. I'd have to see her close-up to confirm, but from here I thought the woman looked good. I was pleased to see that Paul was carrying a paper bag. I swiveled my chair back around and, by the time they got up to my office, I was standing in the doorway. Paul smiled and handed me the bag.
"Krispy Kremes?" I said.
"Like always," he said.
I put the bag on my desk and turned back and hugged Paul.
"This is Daryl Silver," Paul said.
"My real name is Gordon," she said. "Silver is my professional name."
We shook hands. Daryl was, in fact, a knockout. Eagle-eye Spenser. I opened the paper bag and took out a cardboard box of donuts.
"They haven't got these yet in Boston," Paul told Daryl. "So whenever I come home, I bring some."
"Will you join me?" I said to Daryl.
"Thanks," she said. "I'd love to."
"That's a major compliment," Paul said to her. "Usually he goes off in a corner and eats them all."
I poured us some coffee. Paul was looking at the picture on top of the file cabinet of Susan, Pearl, and me.
"I'm sorry about Pearl," Paul said.
I shrugged and nodded.
I shrugged and held out the box of donuts.
"Krispy Kreme?" I said.
The rain arrived and released some of the tension in the atmosphere. It rained first in small, incoherent splatters on the window, then more steadily, then hard. It was very dark out, and the lights in my office seemed warm.
"How did it go in Chicago?" I said.
"The play got good notices," Paul said.
"You read them?"
"No. But people tell me."
"You like directing?"
"I think so. But it's my own play. I don't know if I'd want to direct something written by somebody else."
"How's rehearsal going here?"
"We've done the play too often," Paul said. "We're having trouble with our energy."
"And you're in this?" I said to Daryl.
"She's gotten really great reviews," Paul said. "In Chicago, and before that in Louisville."
"I have good lines to speak," she said.
"Well, yeah," Paul said. "There's that."
With the rain falling, the air had loosened. Below my window, most of the cars had their lights on, and the wet pavement shimmered pleasantly. The lights at Boylston Street, diffused by the rain, looked like bright flowers.
"Daryl would like to talk to you about something," Paul said.
"Sure," I said.
Paul looked at her and nodded. She took in a deep breath.
"Twenty-eight years ago my mother was murdered," she said.
After twenty-eight years, "I'm sorry" seemed aimless.
"1974," I said.
"Yes. In September. She was shot down in a bank in Boston, by people robbing it."
"For no good reason."
I nodded again. There was rarely a good reason.
"I want them found."
"I don't blame you," I said. "But why now, after twenty-eight years?"
"I didn't know how to do it or who to ask. Then I met Paul and he told me about you. He said you saved his life."
"He might exaggerate a little," I said.
"He said if they could be found, you could find them."
"He might exaggerate a little."
"We lived in La Jolla," Daryl said. "We were visiting my mother's sister in Boston. My mother just went into the bank to cash some traveler's checks. And they shot her."
"Were you with her?" I said.
"No. The police told me. I was with my aunt."
"How old were you when your mother died?"
"And you still can't let it go," I said.
"I'll never let it go."
I drank some coffee. There were two Krispy Kremes left in the box. I had already eaten one more than either of my guests.
"Either of you want another donut?" I said.
They didn't. I felt the warm pleasure of relief spread through me. I didn't take a donut. I just sipped a little coffee. I didn't want to seem too eager.
"I remember it," I said. "Old Shawmut Bank branch in Audubon Circle. It's a restaurant now."
"Some sort of revolutionary group."
"The Dread Scott Brigade."
"Ah, yes," I said.
"You know of them?"
"Those were heady times," I said, "for groups with funny names."
I reached over casually, as if I weren't even thinking about it, and took one of the donuts.
"I can't pay you very much," she said.
"She can't pay you anything," Paul said.
"Solve a thirty-year-old murder for no money," I said. "How enticing."
Daryl looked down at her hands, folded in her lap.
"I know," she said.
"Awhile ago, I did a thing for Rita Fiore," I said to Paul, "and last week her firm finally got around to paying me."
"Yes," I said. "A lot."
Paul grinned. "Timing is everything," he said.
"Does that mean you'll help me?" Daryl said.
"It does," I said.
--from Back Story: A Spencer Novel by Robert B. Parker, Copyright © 2003 by Robert B. Parker, Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of the Penguin Group (USA), Inc., All Rights Reserved, Reprinted with Permission from the Publisher.
What People are saying about this
"Spenser's back, just the way we like him." -New York Daily News
Meet the Author
Robert B. Parker was the author of more than fifty books. He died in January 2010.
- Date of Birth:
- September 17, 1932
- Date of Death:
- January 18, 2010
- Place of Birth:
- Springfield, Massachusetts
- Place of Death:
- Cambridge, Massachusetts
- B.A. in English, Colby College, 1954; M.A., Ph. D. in English, Boston University, 1957, 1971
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I agree with the other reviewers -- nobody writes like Parker and there are no 'heros' like Spenser. Many writers come close but don't quiet get there. His writing seems so smooth and you just walk into the dialog and feel like you know Susan and Hawk and Vinnie and Quirk and Belson and.....on and on! Lets just believe for more Spenser novels to come soon!!
A quick, engrossing, entertaining read. I have enjoyed all of the Spencer novels and was eagerly awaiting this one. It did not disappoint! Parker always comes through with an engrossing plot and plenty of wise-cracks. I only wish the author could write books as fast as I can read them! I read this book in one sitting because I couldn't put it down!
Boston private investigator Spenser isn¿t an easy touch, but Paul Giacomin is like a son to him so he is willing to go the extra mile to do the man a favor. Paul, a playwright, wants Spenser to help his friend actress Daryl Silver who is starring in his play, to find out who killed her mother Emily in a Boston bank robbery in 1974. Daryl wants closure and Paul pays Spenser¿s fee, a box of Krispy Crème donuts. The Dread Scott Brigade took credit for the killing and the robbery but nobody was ever caught even thought the bank cameras caught their picture. Spenser gets the police file from the Boston Police Department and notices right away that the FBI intelligence report is missing. A little deeper into the investigation Spenser is warned of the case by government agents and is on the hit list of a crime kingpin. Even though it has become very dangerous, Spenser is determined to find out who killed Daryl¿s mother, if only to satisfy his curiosity. It has been thirty years since the first Spencer book THE GODWULF MANUSCRIPT was published and the series is still fresh, innovative and very entertaining. The hero might be a little older but he still has the same quirky sense of humor and the ability not to flinch when bullets are coming in his direction. BACK STORY is a fascinating who-done-it that is both believable and somewhat nostalgic. Robert B. Parker shows why his hero has become an American icon. Harriet Klausner
Back Story makes easy summer reading read it and forget it. The dialogue, in an effort to be hip or cool or whatever today's word is, comes off stilted and hackneyed and even worse, as if Parker was trying too hard. Still, it's a pleasant mystery to spend a few hours with, but nothing great.
I am sorry that I read this book, but I went with the rating. It does not measure up to any that I have read previously by this author. I have read about 10 titles. For me this book compares to the Jessie Stone series which I really dislike.
Another Spenser tale with it's cast of 'quirk'y characters. Reading any Parker novel allows you to escape and forget about the world. His dialog between characters (especially Spense and Susan or Spense and Hawk) cannot be matched by anyone. His plot twists are always fun, almost as fun as the whole cast he pens in the story. 'Back Story' added a nice twist and allowed us to see Spenser et al really dig.
It is almost like you are reading about old friends. Parker's character development is among the best in the business. You can't help but like all of them. Even Hawk (who is really my favorite). Spencer is as refreshing today as he was in the first book. Maybe growing older and questioning life more, but still as witty and tough as ever.