Hundred-Dollar Baby (Spenser Series #34)

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April Kyle, a prostitute from Spenser's past, comes back into his life-with deadly complications.

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2006 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 291 p. Audience: General/trade. Boston; Boston-Worcester, Mass.; Fiction; ... Hard-Boiled; Massachusetts; Mystery & Detective; New England; Spenser (Fictitious character); Suspense Read more Show Less

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Hundred-Dollar Baby (Spenser Series #34)

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Overview

April Kyle, a prostitute from Spenser's past, comes back into his life-with deadly complications.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Cynical Good Samaritan Spenser is back in the rescue business, protecting April Kyle from the brutes trying to squeeze her out of her ritzy Back Bay call-girl business. His gallantry is only slightly dented by the discovery that April and apparently everyone else in Massachusetts is a full-time liar. The 34th slot in this reader-pleasing series will light up your nights with its crisp dialogue and deep piles of dirty laundry.
Publishers Weekly
April Kyle, the damsel in distress that Spenser rescued in two earlier books, Ceremony (1982) and Taming a Sea Horse (1986), again turns to the iconic Boston PI for help in the 34th entry in Parker's popular series. Cynical yet romantic, Spenser easily handles the immediate threat of some men trying to muscle in on the high-class Boston whorehouse April is running. Unfortunately, that isn't the real problem, and Spenser without much surprise finds that April, the thugs and everyone else involved is lying to him. Instead of walking away, Spenser continues to probe, following trails that lead to New York, a con artist, mob connections and other complications. This is vintage Parker, with Spenser exchanging witty dialogue with the faithful Hawk, sexy dialogue with his beloved Susan and smart-alecky dialogue with cops and villains. The old pros can make it look easy, and that goes for both the author and his hero as they deliver the goods smoothly and with inimitable style. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Lucky April, delivered from streetwalking to a better clientele in Ceremony and from a nasty lover in Taming a Sea-Horse. Now she's a madam protecting her turf, and she needs Spenser's help again. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Spenser, who seems to alternate these days between meaty cases and time-passers, follows School Days (2005) with a thin tale of trouble among high-class prostitutes whose only distinction is bringing back a familiar face from the past. Twenty-five years ago, Spenser rescued runaway teen April Kyle by the unorthodox means of placing her with upscale Manhattan madam Patricia Utley (Ceremony, 1982). When April ran off from her second home, Spenser was on hand to save her again (Taming a Sea-Horse, 1986). Now April, who looks great despite all the miles she's got on her, wants his help fending off the bad guys trying to horn in on the Back Bay brothel she runs. It's the work of a moment for Spenser and Hawk to send the hired bullyboys on their way, of course, but Ollie DeMars, the Southie crew chief who hired them, won't say who paid him to lean on April. Spenser's hunch is that it's Lionel Farnsworth, an ex-client of April's who's already done time for real-estate fraud. But something doesn't add up. April's business just isn't generating enough trade to be worth the trouble of stealing. Is somebody lying to Spenser? Yes. Just about everybody, as he realizes over and over and over until the curtain finally comes down with a bang. Spenser's detective chops are less in evidence than his messiah complex. Even the dialogue, always Parker's specialty, sounds suspiciously like Elmore Leonard.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399153761
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/24/2006
  • Series: Spenser Series , #34
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

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

Biography

Robert B. Parker began as a student of hard-boiled crime writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, but when he became a crime writer himself, he was one of the rare contemporary authors to be considered on par with his predecessors. The Spenser series, featuring a Boston-based ex-boxer and ex-cop, is one of the genre's most respected and popular fixtures.

Noted for their sharp dialogue and fine character development, the Spenser books carry on a tradition while updating it, particularly in giving its hero two strong alter egos in Hawk, a black friend and right-hand man; and Susan Silverman, Spenser's psychologist love interest. Parker's inclusion of other races and sexual persuasions (several of his novels feature gay characters, a sensibility strengthened in Parker through his sons, both of whom are gay) give a more modern feel to the cases coming into Spenser's office.

The Spenser series, which began with 1973's The Godwulf Manuscript, has an element of toughness that suits its Boston milieu; but it delves just as often into the complex relationship between Silverman and Spenser, and the interplay between the P.I. and Hawk.

By the late ‘80s, Parker had acquired such a reputation that the agent for Raymond Chandler's estate tapped him to finish the legend's last book, Poodle Springs. It was a thankless mission bound to earn criticism, but Parker carried off the task well, thanks to his gift for to-the-point writing and deft plotting. "Parker isn't, even here, the writer Chandler was, but he's not a sentimentalist, and he darkens and deepens Marlowe," the Atlantic concluded. In 1991, Parker took a second crack at Chandler with the Big Sleep sequel Perchance to Dream.

Parker took other detours from Spenser over the years. In 1999, Family Honor introduced Sunny Randall, a female Boston private eye Parker created with actress Helen Hunt in mind. Two years earlier, he introduced L.A.-to-New England cop transplant Jesse Stone in Night Passage. He also authored four bestselling Westerns featuring Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, a few young adult books, as well as several stand-alone novels that were well-received by his many fans.

Parker died suddenly in January 2010 while at home at his desk, working on a book. The cause was a heart attack. He was seventy-seven.

Good To Know

Parker's thesis in graduate school was a study of the private eye in literature that centered on Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Ross MacDonald. Critics would later put him in the same category as those authors.

Parker's main hero is named for Edmund Spenser, the 16th-century author of The Faerie Queene.

Parker had a hand in writing the scripts for some television adaptations of Spenser books starring Robert Urich, who also played Spenser in the ABC series from 1985-88. Urich suffered a battle with cancer and passed away in 2002, but adaptations continue to be made for A&E, starring Joe Mantegna. Parker approved of the new actor, telling the New York Times: ''I looked at Joe and I saw Spenser."

According to a profile in the New York Times, Parker met his wife Joan when the two were toddlers at a birthday party. The two reconnected as freshmen at Colby College and eventually had two sons. They credit the survival of their marriage to a house split into separate living spaces, so that the two can enjoy more independent lives than your average husband and wife.

Parker told fans in a 1999 Barnes & Noble.com chat that he thought his non-series historical novel All Our Yesterdays was "the best thing I've ever written."

Parker had a small speaking part in the 1997 A&E adaptation of Small Vices. How does he have time to write his Spenser books, plus the other series and the adaptation stuff? "Keep in mind, it takes me four or five months to write a novel, which leaves me a lot of time the rest of the year," he told Book magazine. "I don't like to hang around."

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    1. Date of Birth:
      September 17, 1932
    2. Place of Birth:
      Springfield, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Death:
      January 18, 2010
    2. Place of Death:
      Cambridge, Massachusetts
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Colby College, 1954; M.A., Ph. D. in English, Boston University, 1957, 1971
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 25 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 22, 2013

    Parker is Parker

    Typical Parker dialogue and plot but a fast and interesting read. Happily, Hawks vocabulary improvement has enabled him to minimize use of the "f" word, a problem I've found in some other Spenser novels.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Good book

    Over all is good, but plot is little boring.Like other books by this author.

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  • Posted August 4, 2009

    Ho Hum

    My first Spenser novel (used to watch Robert Urich TV series). Not terribly "gripping" as blurb writers like to say. Really rather boring. Could have wrapped it up in half as many pages. Short choppy dialog makes it a "page turner" (another blurbism) only because it's short and choppy. Characters have no depth. Made me want to take a shower when I finished. Okay, so the world isn't perfect. But this? Not sure I want to take on the Jessie Stone I've got waiting in the wings. Got the feelng Parker was tired and really struggling to make something of this.

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    Not Up To Spenser Quality

    Hundred Dollar Baby" lacks the impact of the hard right hook I have came to enjoy in the early Spenser novels. Spenser has become old and predictable, nowhere near the Spenser of "Godwulf Manuscript." Let him take his well earned retirement with Susan. The plot was as predictable as a drive on an urban highway at rush hour. The culprit was known from the moment the crime was discovered. The recurring characters are stale as month old bread or this cliche.

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  • Posted January 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    If You Love Spenser....

    This is one of Robert Parker's best Spenser novels. I own them all, from the Godwulf Manuscript through to his most current, and this is one I've reread several times. <BR/><BR/>April Kyle was introduced in Ceremony, as a teenage runaway. In Million Dollar Baby, she returns, fully grown up and looking for Spenser's help. Or is she? In reality, she wants Spenser to help her without really delving into what's actually going on. But she should know better; Spenser never quits, even when he's fired.<BR/><BR/>The ending is shocking, but appropriate.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2008

    Spenser and his baby

    I have to confess, I didn't read the book. I listened to the audio version of Hundred Dollar Baby. I've not experienced any of Parker's books before so I was meeting Spenser and company for the first time. Parker knows his characters inside and out. I enjoyed the interplay between Spenser and Hawk and learning about Spenser's 'softer side' in relation to Susan and Pearl. The mystery, I felt, was a bit predictable as it was clear who the guilty party was long before the end. I also found the conversations between Susan and Spenser to be a bit repetitive. She does go on and on about her degree and their conversations all sound alike. All in all, it was an enjoyable read and I would pick up another Parker novel and jump into Spenser's world again

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2008

    twist &more twist

    first off a GREAT read for us die hards, especially if you are familiar with April Kyle. For first time readers this will have you running back to the book store for the back issues. As always, Spenser toes the line of the law with his own sense of morality, and if Hawk's along for the ride you know it isn't going to be pretty 'for long'! The ultimate wise ass, smart mouth detective pissing the wrong guys off and taking you along for the ride!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2007

    If only Susan went on an extended vacation

    I love the Spencer series. Having said that, I sure am getting sick up and fed with the cutsie banter between Spencer and Susan. Enough already! This is a classic series, don't ruin it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2006

    Not up to Spencer standards

    Having read every Spencer and Jesse Stone novel, this Parker effort was way below the norm. Lots of characters, poorly developed. Even Susan was disjointed, lacked focus and was difficult to follow. Phsyco babble in lieu of the usual insightful speculation. Please, no more 'I went to Harvard'. Maybe time for no more Susan. Page after page I waited for it to take shape and flow smoothly. Alas, I waited in vain. Even the normally crisp and pleasing banter with Hawk was prolonged and often boring. What was the point with Tony and Ty Bop and Cholo and others but to keep their names alive.The whole thing felt like a disinterested effort to meet a publishing committment. We need better from our favorite sleuth.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2006

    WHAT!!!!!!

    Come on Robert, you can do better than this!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2006

    ANOTHER TOP FLIGHT STORY AND A FIVE STAR READING

    Yes, he's a Tony Award winner for his Broadway role in Glengarry Glen Ross, an Emmy nominee for his television appearances and a star of feature films. Nonetheless, for this listener Joe Mantegna is the voice of Robert Parker's iconic hero, Boston PI Spenser. This actor has brought excitement and thrills to such Spenser escapades as Back Story, Bad Business, Cold Service, Hugger Potshot, and Widow's Walk. He does it again with Hundred-Dollar Baby. There's little that ruffles Spenser but the reappearance of April Kyle does. She was once a teenage runaway (Ceremony, 1982) who had the beauty and nerve to turn to prostitution because she believed she had no other choice. She learned her trade well and now is back in Boston running a high priced bordello. Problem is some men are trying to muscle in on her territory and she needs Spenser's help. Well, April may be beautiful and clever, but she's not too candid as Spenser soon discovers. She had maintained that she had no idea who was trying to scuttle her operation but Spenser and his trusty sidekick, Hawk, find that April isn't the unknowing victim that she claims to be. Another top flight story in this ever popular series. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2006

    Not enough of Hawk

    I have read all of the Spenser series and loved them all, including this one. My only objection was that Hawk wasn't a bigger part of the story. I love the character of Hawk, and the funny dialogue between him and Spenser is always my favorite. I missed that in this book. My hope is that thre will many, many more books with the Spenser character in the near future and that Hawk will play a bigger part. Thank you, Robert Parker.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2006

    Hard to put down this mystery novel but . . .

    This book was very good in Robert B. Parker style. I had trouble putting it down. But . . . it just didn't have the punch of a top notch Spenser novel.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a reviewer

    Boston private investigator Spenser makes no moral judgments of how people live so when hooker April Kyle (see CEREMONY and TAMING A SEA HORSE) needs help, he provides it. He goes even further hooking (pun intended) her up with a high class madam. April is in trouble again so she turns to Spenser for help. Someone wants to take over her business and so has hired Ollie DeMars to harass and frighten her into paying for protection.----------- Spenser learns that the man behind the muscle is Lionel Farnsworth who teamed up with April to scare her mentor out of money used to open up a chain of bordellos. April claims she broke off with Lionel when she caught him having sex with one of her girls and tells Spenser to back off. Soon after confronting his client, Spenser finds out that someone murdered Ollie, who once shared a low security cell with Lionel. Spenser feels strongly that April is hiding something from him he needs to find out what that is because he believes she is in a lot more trouble than she admits.----------------- Spenser is at his best in HUNDRED DOLLAR BABY as he tries to help a female friend who rejects his assistance as she spirals downward. One of the hero¿s endearing traits is he makes friends with politically incorrect individuals who in many cases work outside the law. Robert B. Parker refreshes his long running series as Spenser struggles with the object of his protection insisting he butt out.------------------ Harriet Klausner

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    Posted January 10, 2010

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    Posted June 23, 2011

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    Posted March 30, 2011

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    Posted September 6, 2009

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