Small Vices (Spenser Series #24)

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Overview

Ellis Alves is a bad kid from the 'hood with a long, long record, but did he really murder Melissa Henderson, a white coed from ritzy Pemberton College? Alves's former lawyers think he was framed, and they hire Spenser to uncover the truth. As he and longtime associate Hawk race from the back streets of Boston to Manhattan's most elegant avenues, Spenser gets a postgraduate course in the seamy side of life - an ethical no-man's-land where twisted cops and spoiled rich kids with peculiar private proclivities are ...
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Small Vices (Spenser Series #24)

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Overview

Ellis Alves is a bad kid from the 'hood with a long, long record, but did he really murder Melissa Henderson, a white coed from ritzy Pemberton College? Alves's former lawyers think he was framed, and they hire Spenser to uncover the truth. As he and longtime associate Hawk race from the back streets of Boston to Manhattan's most elegant avenues, Spenser gets a postgraduate course in the seamy side of life - an ethical no-man's-land where twisted cops and spoiled rich kids with peculiar private proclivities are just the tip of the iceberg. The stakes abruptly shift from corruption to catastrophe when a master assassin's bullets take Spenser down. He survives the attack - barely - but must play dead to the world, while recovering his strength hiding in secret. Only then can he see justice done - and let the shooter know that it's payback time.

Spenser dies--and lives to tell the tale--in Parker's stunning new mystery novel. In an attempt to smoke out a killer, Spenser plays dead after he barely survives a master assassin's bullet. For it is only then that he can see justice done--and let the shooter know that it's payback time. BOMC Main Selection. 320 pp. 150,000 print.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
April 1997

Spenser is back. In Small Vices, his 24th adventure, we find the private eye working on a case of wrongful incarceration — a case that reopens the murder of a Boston coed. Spenser's cynical and pushy nature gets him what he wants, when he wants it, but it gets under people's skin. Despite being threatened, he doesn't drop the case; Spenser is a man of principle and a man set in his ways. Suddenly we see Spenser as we have never seen him before: near death, having taken three bullets from a hired assassin. Most men would give up, but who ever said that Spenser was like most men?

Spenser embarks on the long, hard road of rehabilitation with his friend, Hawk, and his lover, Susan, by his side. And from the start his mind is set on one thing: regaining the strength and skill to take on the would-be assassin face to face, man to man, until justice is done. Spenser has never come up against something quite like this — a professional killer who just might be his equal...and then some.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Spenser returns in top form (his 24th adventure, following Chance) to clear a man wrongly imprisoned for murdering a woman college student. Ellis Alves, a black man with sexual assaults on his record, was convicted easily when two witnesses said they saw him kidnap the victim. Former prosecutor Rita Fiore suspects a frame-up, however, and hires old pal Spenser to investigate. "You gonna get buried," Alves warns Spenser and his sidekick Hawk. Sure enough, reopening the case pits them against the victim's influential parents, her hostile tennis-star boyfriend and his wealthy family, and the state cop who arrested Alves. Four Boston thugs can't force Spenser off the case, but an imported hit man pours several bullets into him. Barely surviving, Spenser emerges from a coma with his gun hand useless. Parker writes a powerful, affecting description of Spenser's painful rehab. The sharp, densely compacted dialogue, a hallmark of this series, exceeds itself here. Even psychologist Susan Silverman's discourse, as she shrink-raps on Spenser's motivation, has a lower than usual pretense quotient. Susan wants to adopt a child with Spenser, but he is determined to risk another clash with the hit man. Spenser, still thoroughly convincing as the tough and decent PI, seeks bits of justice where he can. Even after 23 years on the job (The Godwulf Manuscript, Spenser's first appearance, was published in 1974), nobody does it better. BOMC selection (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Peerless shamus Spenser's 24th case (Chance, 1996, etc.) is almost his last, thanks to an assassin who's a lot more like him than he'd like to acknowledge.

Cone, Oakes and Baldwin, Boston's largest law firm, doesn't like loose ends, and when Rita Fiore and Marcy Vance, the former prosecutor who put Ellis Alves away for murder and the former public defender who couldn't save him from the big house, meet in the firm's tony corridors and share doubts about the case, they end up hiring Spenser to make sure the evidence is solid. Nobody, including Alves, a career criminal with an attitude about white folks, wants to talk to Spenser, but it isn't long before he smells several rats anyway. Why didn't the upscale couple (since married) who said they saw Alves drag Pemberton College coed Melissa Henderson into his car call the police till after Melissa was dead? Why would a lowlife like Alves have dumped her body on the well-tended Pemberton campus? Why do the parents of Melissa's boyfriend, tennis hopeful Clint, deny that they ever knew Melissa? Interesting questions—interesting enough to get Spenser the obligatory string of warnings by local thugs and crooked cops and a dead-eyed killer in a gray suit. But Spenser won't lay off, even though his personal shrink Susan Richman, avid to adopt a baby, switches to reminders that Ellis Alves undoubtedly belongs in jail for something. So the Gray Man comes after Spenser with his trademark .22, short-circuiting every surprise (hey, this isn't Nicolas Freeling) except the question of how Spenser's going to recover and nail his would-be executioner and the people who hired him—and then live with himself afterwards.

It's a tribute to Parker's professionalism that he takes a device as old as Sherlock Holmes—the death and rebirth of the detective—and infuses it with renewed urgency and moral weight, showing the thoroughbred form that put him and Boston on the p.i. map in the first place.

From Barnes & Noble
The intrepid Spenser returns in a search for suspects in the murder of a college student--a list that includes the victim's tennis-star boyfriend. Plumbing the depths of the seamy side of life, they encounter a no-man's-land of twisted cops and spoiled rich kids with peculiar private proclivities. When a man with a .22 puts Spenser in a coma, the hope for justice may die along with the detective. Full of the galvanizing action and suspense that legions of Spenser fans recognize and appreciate. Running Time: Approximately 8 hours.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590072103
  • Publisher: New Millennium Entertainment
  • Publication date: 5/1/2004
  • Series: Spenser Series, #24
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 6.38 (h) x 2.72 (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:

Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

Before the live bn.com chat, Robert B. Parker agreed to answer some of our questions.

Q:  What's your favorite takeout meal?

A:  My favorite takeout meal is Chinese food.

Q:  Describe one thing in life that you have done but are glad you never have to do again.

A:  I'd rather not read Paradise Lost again.

Q:  What is the first line of poetry that comes to mind?

A:  "Earth's the best place for love, I know nowhere it's likely to get better" -- Robert Frost, "Swinging Birches"

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2013

    This is one of my favorite R B Parker books. Highly recommended.

    This is one of my favorite R B Parker books. Highly recommended.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    Echosong

    Name: Echosong or Echo Age: 13 moond Description: a black she cat with silver "music notes" through out her fur and brown eyes Scars: she has a twisted paw Mate: nope Kits: nada Crush: no Family: unknown History: will only tell Gingerstar Apprentice: none yet

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    Fleetkit

    NAME Fleetkit AGE 5 moons APPEARANCE bunny-sized baby blue shekit with wings PERSONALITY fast, cool, moderate

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

    Darkeyes bio

    Name:Darkeyes. Age:19moons. Rank:assitant deputy. Mate:Gingerstar. Kits: None. Apperance: Eletric blue eyes black with a line of red on hes white tail tip sharp claws a large slim cat. Type o' cat: athltic. Persoality: smart fast understanding funny sometimes strict and very protective

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

    Zap and reaper bio

    Strikingly handsom twin black toms with red swirl on their backs. Zap with his electric golden eyes. Is mischevious of the two. He speaks for reaper,who is shy. Reaper has light blue eyes lined with gold both are single... their mother is nebula. Fathe is clearstone. Sister is crystal.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

    Lanternstream

    Grew up in the forest without a clan or parents. She ate herbs and meat. She knew all herbs and their uses . She came to Leafclan for a home and they welcomed her with the job pf a med cat.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

    Mistyclaw

    Cruse reaper she cat grey fur matw none kits none deputy apprentice moonpaw

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    Gingerstar bio

    Mate: Darkeyes. Kits: none. (Yet) Apprenses: ginger with white patches. Persnality: funy caring kind loving and active. She grew up in Grassclan but then started her own clan.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Fatalstrikes Bio

    Extremely beautiful athletic skilled and mateless with a black and white sleek pelt and green eyes with red tinges. Kind and wishes to someday have kits she is a warrior of only fifteen years with a nickname Fatal which is used by only close friends.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2000

    first spenser novel read

    I have never read a novel by this author. In school I had to read this book and I loved it. It was very easy to read and understand. I would like to give my approval of this book, and recommend it to other readers

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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