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The Professional (Spenser Series #37)

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Overview

A knock on Spenser's office door can only mean one thing: a new case. This time the visitor is a local lawyer with an interesting story. Elizabeth Shaw specializes in wills and trusts at the Boston law firm of Shaw & Cartwright, and over the years she's developed a friendship with wives of very wealthy men. However, these rich wives have a mutual secret: they've all had an affair with a man named Gary Eisenhower- and now he's blackmailing them for money. Shaw hires Spenser to make Eisenhower "cease and ...

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The Professional (Spenser Series #37)

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Overview

A knock on Spenser's office door can only mean one thing: a new case. This time the visitor is a local lawyer with an interesting story. Elizabeth Shaw specializes in wills and trusts at the Boston law firm of Shaw & Cartwright, and over the years she's developed a friendship with wives of very wealthy men. However, these rich wives have a mutual secret: they've all had an affair with a man named Gary Eisenhower- and now he's blackmailing them for money. Shaw hires Spenser to make Eisenhower "cease and desist," so to speak, but when women start turning up dead, Spenser's assignment goes from blackmail to murder.

As matters become more complicated, Spenser's longtime love, Susan, begins offering some input by analyzing Eisenhower's behavior patterns in hopes of opening up a new avenue of investigation. It seems that not all of Gary's women are rich. So if he's not using them for blackmail, then what is his purpose? Spenser switches tactics to focus on the husbands, only to find that innocence and guilt may be two sides of the same coin.

With its eloquently spare prose and some of the best supporting characters to grace the printed page, The Professional is further proof that "[t]here's hardly an author in the crime novel business like Parker" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This case begins, as they often do, with a relatively simple assignment. Apparently, a lothario named Gary Eisenhower has been romancing and then blackmailing the wives of several very wealthy Bostonians. Spenser's job, if he chooses to accept it, is to persuade this lowlife conniver to cease and desist. When blackmail turns to murder, however, everything suddenly becomes more complicated and much more dangerous. Robert B. Parker's 38th Spenser novel shows that the master is still at the top of his game.
Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Parker makes producing snappy banter look easy in his 37th Spenser novel (after Rough Weather). He also manages to draw new readers into the Boston PI's major personal relationships—with love interest Susan Silverman and friend/ally/bodyguard Hawk—without shoveling on the backstory. Spenser agrees to help a quartet of married women fend off extortion demands from stud Gary Eisenhower, with whom each has had an affair. Meanwhile, the husband of one of the women under blackmail threat hires some thugs to deal with the matter. The action takes its time getting to a dead body, but, as usual, the smooth, entertaining prose more than compensates for any deficiencies of plot. The absence of major personal developments for Spenser or his associates marks this as a less memorable entry than others in this iconic series, but it remains a solid, enjoyable contemporary detective novel. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
Not even Spenser's formidable gifts are equal to the problems posed by a charming blackmailer who kisses and threatens to tell. At least four women-Abigail Larson, Beth Jackson, Regina Hartley and Nancy Sinclair-have been photographed and tape-recorded trysting with Gary Eisenhower. Their only regret is that if he doesn't get $25,000 a month from each of them, he'll go to their older, wealthier husbands. While they're fretting about their limited options and Spenser is tracking the lover they shared to Pinnacle Fitness, one of the husbands, tough-guy financier Chester Jackson, gets wind of Spenser's inquiries and takes matters into his own hands, sending a pair of goons after Boston's favorite detective. Spenser can deal with the goons, at least at first, but he can't deal with Eisenhower, who blandly admits that he likes sleeping with married women, lots of them, and likes raising money from his amours even better. At length Spenser succeeds in orchestrating the kind of pressure necessary to make Eisenhower back down. But by then the case has already started to spiral, like so many of the PI's recent outings (Rough Weather, 2008, etc.), into something darker and more violent, something Spenser doesn't know any better how to deal with. Even after three characters have died and he's certain who killed them, he still can't figure out how "to make everything come out okay."Though Parker's flagship sleuth doesn't distinguish himself as either a detective or a problem-solver, his bewildered uncertainty is more touching and revealing than his customary machismo.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425236307
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/7/2010
  • Series: Spenser Series , #37
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 149,073
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert B. Parker is the author of more than fifty books. He lives in Boston.

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 4
( 117 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(44)

4 Star

(33)

3 Star

(22)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 117 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Fitting End

    A few days after I finished reading "The Professional", Robert Parker passed away. I was shocked and felt like a lost many close friends. As soon as I closed the book, I was ready for the next one, but sady this may have been the last of the series. So, I was glad that this was a really good Spenser mystery. It was especially interesting because it makes a comment on the times. Four women who are married to older, wealthy, powerful men hire Spenser to investigate a man who they all have sex with because he is trying to blackmail them. But, the catch is they all continue to have sex with this man; they all like him; they just don't want their husbands to find out about him or pay him. Sounds like something out of the headlines in politics or professional sports. This is a novel about marrying money, overindulgence, lack of common sense, and not wanting to deal with reality. The scenes between Spencer and Susan are particularly good because they reveal answers to a lot of questions about their relationship. Spenser and Susan explore the subjects of love and sex as Spenser investigates the man who services all four women with sex. Spenser finds the man both likeable and strangely interesting, and there is no animosity between them. In fact, the man co-operates with Spenser and tries to help him. The Man likes all four women but needs their money to continue his unusual business. So it is a very odd mystery indeed. As Spenser searches for answers the dialogue sparkles like it does in all the Spenser novels. I have read and collected almost every Robert Parker book. For decades, I have looked forward to reading a new one to read every few months. I will really miss Spenser, Hawk, Susan, Vinnie, Sunny Randall, Jesse Stone, and all the rest of Robert Parker's fictional friends. I found them all to be tough, likeable, and fun. I will also miss their canine friends who are every bit as interesting as their owners. Thanks to Robert Parker for writing so many interesting adventures filled with some of the greatest characters in mystery fiction.
    He will be missed.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2010

    R.I.P. Robert B. Parker

    I was so sad to learn of his sudden passing. I understand there are a few books still to be released. I loved his writing, some better than others, but always an enjoyable way to spend a relaxing afternoon. I will miss him and Jesse Stone, Spencer, Sunny Randall, Hawk and Susan. My condolences to his family.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Keep you driving around the block to hear the finish

    I've always been a huge fan of the Spenser books and of any book with Boston in the background. This is an unusual book with 4 women hiring Spenser to stop a blackmailer from revealing their sexual indiscretions with him. What I liked about the book was the uncertainty of the true villain's identity. It kept me wondering about how this book was going to turn out. Of course, Joe Mantegna has the perfect tone for Spenser's somewhat sarcastic retorts!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    Interesting, kept you reading, always the romantic and tough guy

    As any Robert Parker story this Spenser novel is likely the last one I will read because Robert Parker has since passed away. I am an avid reader of Spenser novels and I feel like part of my life died with Robert Parker. Its amazing how an author can have such an effect on a person, but its hard to think I will no longer be reading about Spenser and the love of his life, Susan and all the other thugs that hang around Spenser that I have been reading about for many many years.
    I bought the CD this time so I could listen on my 5 CD radio in my truck driving back & forth to work. Takes about an hour each way, so every day for about 3 1/2 days I had an enjoyable ride to and from Boston. Sometimes I would be laughing and wonder if anyone in cars next to me was watching as I was listening to Spenser and his escapades.
    I will miss Robert Parker and Spenser. He has been a part of my fantasy life for a very long time. Good Bye Mr Parker.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Another Great Spenser Novel

    As always, I thoroughly enjoyed this latest Spenser novel. An interesting concept and I can't say more than that without spoiling the fun!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2010

    Robert B. Parker delivers again.

    As usual, Parker's muscular writing style kept me immersed in the story from start to finish. I love his characters, love their banter, love the devotion of Spencer and Susan for each other, the respect and loyalty of Hawk and the recurring characters like Vinnie and Quirk. Parker can say more in fewer words than any author I can think of. I know this is about Spenser, but he and Jesse Stone are my heroes. Also Sunny Randall. I look forward to each new release. Keep 'em coming, Parker!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2009

    A Nice Read

    In Robert B. Parker's latest thriller "The Professional," private detective Spenser is asked to assist four women who cheated on their rich husbands with the same lover who, having recorded their trysts, comes back to blackmail them-Gary Eisenhower. Matters are further complicated by the private situation of each victim: Regina is married to a homosexual politician who's terrified that Gary's revelations will wreak havoc on his career. Nancy's hiding her sex addiction and living in fear that her husband would leave her if he found out. Beth's husband, Chester Jackson, is obsessed with his wife and hires two men called Zell and Boo to spy on Spenser and destroy Gary. Abigail has a drinking problem that ultimately propels her into the arms of Spenser. The mutual bond this women harbor is their shared experience with Gary and their wish to get the whole situation over with. However, things are never what they seem. As Spenser tracks down Eisenhower, he learns that Gary is not operating alone and at least one of his female clients is continuing a relationship with him, despite the blackmail. Along with his beautiful psychologist girlfriend Susan, Spenser then locates a female college associate who previously had an affair with Eisenhower, following which he was briefly in jail, to attempt to understand what exactly attracts these women to him. As events take a terrifying turn, several murders take place in the second part of the book-including the husband of one of Spenser's clients. I found the book to be a quick and entertaining read, with a good sense of conflict and tension towards the end. The writing is straight-to-the point, the characters stand out, and the by the time the story ends everything has been neatly explained-something that isn't always easy to do with a thriller. Overall, I found this book to be an engaging and enjoyable read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fresh and sparkling, great book

    Spenser has been wooing his sweetie pie Susan and vanquishing the bad guys for 37 books now and in the hands of a master story teller it never gets old.

    In fact this is one of the best of the series. A nicely twisting plot with strong characters, crisp dialog and believable situations. If you've never read a Spenser novel you're in for a treat. If you're already a fan, this offering is going to make you want to go back and reread the series.

    Excellent work and well worth the money.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    Wonderful book

    would recommend this book to anyone

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2010

    Outstanding

    The Professional is another one of Parkers masterpieces. Bravo!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2010

    Not bad. Entertaining. Audio book uses to many, "he said," "she said,"

    Audio book good. Murder book, but much humor. Very good reader, actor Joe Montagne, but he continues to recites too man, he said, she said. Gets very annoying.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    My Husband and I are really enjoying this read

    Parker does it again. Who doesn't like Spenser. Susan and Hawk are as entertaining as always. I good read/listen for everyone.

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  • Posted April 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    cannot in good conscience recommend this CD

    This is the first R.Parker book I've encountered. I could not endure the
    'he said, he said' every time. I did not finish listening. In a book, one is able to skip over the 'he said', 'she said' but impossible in an audio. It was impossible for my husband and me to listen to; even though he has read several of his books. When it came to the CD, he said, 'shut that thing OFF! - I strongly suggest you save your money on this recording. It was easy to tell that even the reader was frustrated with having to read the 'he said' so repetatively. Cannot understand the audio directors allowing this in voiced version. I give this a zero, bottom of the pile.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    What a shame!

    I feel guilty giving a negative review because Mr.Parker has left us, BUT, this book is awful. The dialogue is simply sophomoric and neither witty,clever or funny. The "Susan Thing" has jumped the shark, many years ago in fact. All in all, just tedious and boring. About 100 pages in and I junked it for another in the Lucas Davenport series. Much better.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2010

    Author's use of "said"

    There are dozens of ways to say "he said," but Parker uses "said" every time. It became distracting, then annoying the longer we listened. The story was probably fairly interesting, but c'mon, be a little bit versatile. I haven't read anything else by Robert Parker, and now am unlikely to do so.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2010

    more spenser

    to all you spenser fans, there will be at least 2 more spenser books from robert parker. he was working on a new spenser when he died. we sould still see a new spenser novel this fall. I liked the professional but i,m glad it will not be the last spenser book.

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  • Posted January 25, 2010

    Almost the last Parker before he passed.

    The 37th in the Spencer series is captivating as always.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    My favorite author

    I have read every one of Robert B. Parker's books. I love his style. They are quick, easy reads with great characters. I look forward to his next book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2010

    A look back at Spenser,

    perfect, except we don't know his first name still

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  • Posted December 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The best "trio" in books

    Spenser, Susan and Hawk are the best detective trio in books. This is a lot like the CSI series because the characters click so well together. It's not even the story line that draws you in, believe me, it's those three characters who bring each book to life.

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