Chance (Spenser Series #23)

Chance (Spenser Series #23)

4.0 2
by Robert B. Parker

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Mafia princess Shirley Meeker wants her husband back. So does her father the kingpin and a few other shady characters. Spenser and hawk head to Vegas to find Anthony Meeker and to confirm their suspicion that all these people aren't just missing Anthony's smile. And Spenser has to make some sense of some very disorganized crime...


Mafia princess Shirley Meeker wants her husband back. So does her father the kingpin and a few other shady characters. Spenser and hawk head to Vegas to find Anthony Meeker and to confirm their suspicion that all these people aren't just missing Anthony's smile. And Spenser has to make some sense of some very disorganized crime...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Organized crime in Parker's fictional Boston has provided protein-rich fodder for most of the Spenser novels (recently, Thin Air and Walking Shadow). Parker sticks to the tried and true here, as his burly and literate PI untangles the knotted power schemes of the four putative heirs-and a brash newcomer-to old Joe Broz's domain. A second-echelon hoodlum, Julius Ventura, hires Spenser and his partner/sidekick Hawk to find his daughter's missing husband, a middle-management criminal named Anthony Meeker, who, it turns out, had money-handling responsibilities. Speedily determining that Meeker liked to gamble, Spenser and his lover, psychiatrist Susan Silverman, and Hawk depart for Las Vegas. They find their quarry, discover the complicating identity of his female companion and are joined by assorted other players, including one of Ventura's nastier fellow crimesters and Meeker's wife. A murder follows, sending Spenser back to Boston to determine who has betrayed whom and to try to smooth the way out for one of the women involved in the mess. This is vintage Parker, replete with the expected black/white reparte between Spenser and Hawk and the archly crude dialogue he carries on with Susan. ("Had I been a lascivious Irish shrink, would you have loved me anyway?" she asks. Spenser replies affirmatively and adds, "But I think you've just coined a tripartite oxymoron.") Despite a mid-course swerve in the plot, the action rings true, especially the machinations among the crime bosses, as Spenser proves himself once more a modern-day knight in shining armor.
Wes Lukowsky
Julius Ventura is a big-time Boston thug. He doesn't want to hire Spenser, but he does because his daughter is crying, and what dad--even a thug--can say no to a crying daughter? Shirley is crying because her husband, Anthony Meeker, has disappeared, and she wants him back. Anthony did some work for his father-in-law, and Spenser suspects there was a cash shortfall about the time Anthony disappeared. Soon Spenser discovers that Anthony was skimming from Julius and had an unwelcome partner, namely Marty Anaheim, a leg breaker in another branch of the organization. And just to add some spice to the mix, Anaheim's wife, Bibi, ran off with Meeker. Spenser and erstwhile pal Hawk move to and fro between Boston and Las Vegas, where they find Henry and Bibi, decide to help the pair escape the murderous Anaheim, and then get stopped cold by the murder of Shirley, Meeker's estranged wife. Toss in a power struggle among Boston's criminal elite, and you've got the most densely plotted Spenser novel in years. The unexpectedly complex machinations of the case complement the always stellar dialogue, the palpable sense of potential violence, and the bantering relationship between Spenser and longtime lover Susan Silverman. The Spenser series has had its ups and downs over more than 20 years, but this twenty-fifth entry finds the quick-witted sleuth and company to be in remarkably good health. Wonderfully entertaining reading.
Kirkus Reviews
A missing mafia son-in-law leads Spenser and Hawk (Thin Air) across the country and back to some alarmingly intricate, high-level double-dealing.

It's obvious that Shirley Meeker's husband Anthony is a bum, so why does her father, important thug Julius Ventura, want his brainless courier back? And why would Marty Anaheim, a capo for Gino Fish's gang, be so interested in Spenser's current commission that he'd have him tailed? Smelling an in-house ripoff by the courier, Spenser follows a hunch (lot of those this time) and takes off with mean Hawk and beauteous Susan for Las Vegas, where, sure enough, Anthony turns up, playing a progressive system he's positive will net him all the money there is. Spenser knows there's got to be more to the story, and there is: Anthony's sharing a toothbrush with Marty's wife Bibi. For reasons of his own, Spenser agrees to keep Ventura off Anthony and Bibi for a few days—just long enough for Shirley to follow her husband to Vegas and get herself raped, beaten, and strangled. Then, in short order, Anthony disappears again, and so does Bibi, whom softhearted Spenser puts on a plane to L.A. to vanish without realizing that she wants to disappear from him too. Just when you're thinking that Spenser's coasting on his earlier reputation, the guy actually starts to do some detective work, uncovering secrets back in Boston that link the few characters who weren't already involved with each other, and tying the whole scheming lot into a struggle for control of the Boston mob. Spenser will redeem his missteps through the usual quota of strutting showdowns ("I had four. Usually that was enough, and would have to be again. After all, I had one more bullet than attackers") before the curtain comes down for good on the bad guys' necks.

A '90s update of The Big Sleep with some of its celebrated model's structural problems: deeply satisfying page by page, but more than a little disjointed in retrospect.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Spenser Series , #23
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
File size:
337 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Robert B. Parker was the author of more than fifty books. He died in January 2010.

Brief Biography

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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Chance 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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