From the Publisher
“Delicious fun…Spenser is back in his element—out-punching and out-quipping adversaries in Beantown. An entertaining supporting cast puts this one on the top shelf…one of the author’s wittier outings. Bottom line: A merry Widow.”—People
“Priceless moments.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Top-notch stuff.”—The Seattle Times
“Parker’s energies remain as formidable as his hero’s.”—Boston Globe
“Prime Spenser…an enjoyable ride.”—The Times Union (Albany, NY.)
“Widow’s Walk ranks among the best in the Spenser series—just enough of the hard-boiled stuff, a touch of good-natured cynicism, some mature reflection on the nature of life and a well-knotted whodunit. It’s a great way to spend the weekend…For those who have yet to have the pleasure of our hero’s company, it’s a stellar introduction.”—Calgary Herald
“It’s the dialogue that marks Parker as the undisputed master of the hard-boiled universe.”—Ottawa Citizen
“The writing is as clean as fresh ice, and from the opening sentence, it’s clear that readers are in the hands of a vet who knows what he’s doing.”—Publishers Weekly
“ANY book by Robert B. Parker is a treat but there is something extra-special when he gives us a new detective story starring the inimitable Spenser. [Widow’s Walk is] classic Parker, with that beautifully pared-down style that wastes no words but still conjures up richly detailed characters and a vibrant sense of place…funny…touching… compassionate.” —Sunday Mercury
“Spencer is back, as quick with a quip and as free with his fists as ever…So enjoy.”—The San Diego Union Tribune
“One of the great series in the history of the American detective story.”—The New York Times
“A cat’s cradle of conspiracies…fun to read as ever.”—Los Angeles Times
The Barnes & Noble Review
At a signing he once gave at a Long Island bookstore, Robert B. Parker admitted to me that he and his beloved private eye creation, Spenser, both shared the same view about aging. "We ignore it," Parker said. Despite the fact that the Spenser novels are written in "real time" and the Boston P.I. served in the Korean War, he remains a timeless romantic, pursuer of truth, and old-school thug who's out to clean up the streets as best he can.
In his 30th excursion, Spenser is hired by attorney Rita Fiore to delve into the case of Mary Smith, the beautiful but vapid wife of millionaire banker Nathan Smith who is now a suspect in her husband's murder. Nathan was found shot to death in the bedroom while Mary claims to have been watching TV in another room. Although Spenser sets out to clear Mary's name, he finds her insipid personality -- what he calls "the power of dumb" -- to be a hurdle he has trouble clambering over. His investigation unravels high finance schemes, property sale hustles, and plenty of banking backstabbing, but he still can't be certain if Mary pulled the trigger or is actually as ignorant as she appears.
The mystery itself is almost secondary to the literary attributes of the story. Widow's Walk is written with Parker's patented lucid style and a narrative drive that will propel you into a tale of thoughtful substance. As with his previous novels in the series, Potshot and Hugger Mugger, he manages to use a humorous ambiance to underscore the high level of violence. Although there's an unusually high number of deaths found in Widow's Walk, it's Spenser's wit and contemplative nature that makes this so exceptionally entertaining. (Tom Piccirilli)
New York Times Book Review
Sometimes you have to wonder how Robert B. Parker keeps his mojo working...There is a trick to keeping the faith with an old hero. In an age of shifty heroes with shaky values, he has created a hero who can still stand up for himselfand us.
Last year Parker published three strong novels including the excellent Spenser mystery Potshot. So he's entitled to a miss and a pass and gets one with this forgettable Spenser entry. Attorney Rita Fiore, who's worked with the Boston PI before, hires Spenser to find out if her new client, Mary Smith, whom Spenser's cop pal Quirk describes as "dumber than my dick," indeed shot to death her husband, banker and Mayflower descendant Nathan Smith, as the evidence indicates. Spenser's search for the truth takes him into one of the most confusing (for the PI and the reader) cases of his long career; unusual for Parker, pages are needed at book's end to explain who did what and why. Sidekick Hawk pitches in to protect Spenser, and gunsel Vinnie Morris lends a hand, too, as several folks Spenser talks to wind up dead, and as the PI is trailed, then attacked, by thugs headquartered at a crooked land development company with ties to the dead man's bank. Susan, Spenser's beloved, offers some advice as well, but the ritual appearances by Spenser's crew, human and animal (Pearl the Wonder Dog, ancient and slow, waddles in here and there), while earning a nod of gratitude from series fans, do little to advance or deepen the proceedings. The novel stirs to life only fitfully, most notably in the confrontational exchanges between a female lawyer implicated in the crimes and her powerful attorney father; here, Parker taps into truth about familial loyalties. The writing is as clean as fresh ice, and from the opening sentence (" `I think she's probably guilty,' Rita Fiore said to me"), it's clear that readers are in the hands of a vet who knows what he's doing; but what Parker is doing here is, alas, not very interesting. (Mar. 18) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
When even Pearl the Wonder Dog is slowing down-she's deaf and arthritic and obviously hasn't long to live-you have to wonder whether Spenser will ever rouse himself from his recent doldrums (Potshot, 2001, etc.). Not this time. As usual, though, Boston's favorite private eye slides into his 30th case as smooth as a knife sinking into butter. The State is convinced that Mary Smith, with her brains and supermodel looks, shot her patrician banker husband Nathan to death even though she claims she was downstairs watching Survivor; her attorney, Rita Fiore, naturally taking Mary's view of the case, rouses herself from coyly propositioning Spenser long enough to ask him to dig up exculpatory evidence. Spenser's highly trained response is to ask for a list of Mary's friends-it's a long list including very few actual friends-then begin questioning them and, when he notices he's being followed by a pair of goons, to go on asking pointless questions until one of his conversations goads the goons into acting. The red-flag suspect, Smith financial advisor Brinkman Tyler, is soon dead, along with an unwisely chatty bank officer, an ex-con who claims Mary Smith hired him to ice her husband, and the ex-con's girlfriend; Spenser himself, not to be outdone, notches up a sixth casualty. But none of his obviously provocative questioning leads anywhere except the morgue and some gay bars catering to seriously underage drinkers until one of his dozen interchangeable suspects implicates another, and the whole house of cards-a complicated, forgettable scam-comes tumbling down. Spenser's always been as mannered and self-involved as he finds Marlon Brando, but it's hard to remember a single one of his earliercases that provided so few non-Spenser pleasures. The bestselling hero's earned a rest between hits, of course, but what about the fans who made him a star?
Read an Excerpt
"I think she's probably guilty," Rita Fiore said to me.
We were in her office, high up, with a view of the harbor.
"And you're her lawyer," I said. "
Tells you about her case," Rita said. She sat on the edge of her desk in front of me, her thick red hair gleaming. She had on a black suit with a very short skirt. Rita knew her legs were good.
"But you'll represent her anyway."
"Like everyone else," Rita said, "she's entitled to the best defense she can get."
"Or afford," I said.
Rita smiled. "Or afford."
"She got money?"
"Oodles," Rita said.
"Last time I worked for you," I said, "I almost got killed."
"I know," Rita said. "We could give you hazardous-duty pay."
"It's all hazardous duty," I said. "Tell me about your client."
"Honest to God," Rita said. "It's her real name. She was married to the victim, Nathan Smith. Her maiden name was Toricelli."
"She have oodles of money before she married him?" I said.
"It's an investigational term," I said. "That where the oodles come from?"
"They the same age?"
"He married her when she was twenty-three and he was fifty-one."
"None. For either."
"How old is she now?"
Rita had her legs crossed. She bounced the top leg a little, looking at the point of her shoe. The shoe had a very high heel. It looked uncomfortable. But good.
"Anyone else in her life?"
Rita shook her head sadly. "God," she said. "You're a cynical bastard."
"Cops suspect her of an affair or two."
Rita smiled. "Youwant them in chronological order?" she said. "Or alphabetically?"
"You can give me a list," I said. "What's the prosecution's case?"
"He was discovered naked in his bed with a hole in his head made by a forty-caliber slug."
"They find the bullet?"
"Yes. After it went through his head it tore through the mattress and lodged in the baseboard. Angle of the shot suggests that it was fired by someone in bed beside him."
"She have an alibi?"
"No. She says she was downstairs in the library watching television."
"She hear the shot?"
"No. Says the TV was on loud and her door was closed so as not to wake him up."
"So she found him that way when she went up to bed."
"Yes. They didn't share a bedroom, but she usually stopped in to say good night."
"Did he normally sleep naked?" I said.
"I don't know."
"Okay," I said. "She's a good candidate. But they got to have more than that to prosecute."
"They had a huge fight earlier in the evening. He actually slapped her."
"Two dozen. It was a big cocktail party in Brookline."
"And I assume she's his heir," I said.
"And there's more," I said.
"Unfortunately, yes. Prosecution has a witness who says she tried to hire him to kill her husband."
"And he declined?"
"He says he did."
"He make a deal for his testimony?"
"Yes. They picked him up for something unrelated. He said if they could work something out, he could help them with this case."
"Which is a high profiler," I said.
"The Smiths first came to Boston on the Mayflower," Rita said.
"The Mayflower didn't come to Boston," I said.
"Well, they've been here a long time," Rita said.
"But the cops can't put her in the room when the gun went off," I said.
"No powder residue on her hands."
"No. But he did."
"Shot at close range," I said. "Put his hands up to try and stop the bullet?"
"That's the police theory."
"Everybody knows about powder residue anyway," I said. "She could have worn gloves."
"Police didn't find them."
"You can flush those latex jobs down the toilet like a condom."
"I've heard that can happen," Rita said.
"I'll bet you have," I said.
"I meant about the gloves," Rita said.
"There is probably more," Rita said. "But that's what I know they've got so far."
"You think they can convict her on that?" I said.
"Motive, and opportunity, prior solicitations to murder. Plus the jury won't like her."
"Because she's what my mother would have called cheap. She's too pretty, too made up, too blond, lot of attitude, drinks to excess, probably does dope, sleeps around."
"Sounds like a great date," I said.
"And her diction is bad," Rita said. "She sounds uneducated."
"Juries don't like that?"
"They are more inclined to think you're innocent if you sound like Barbara Walters," Rita said.
"You think Barbara would be a good date?"
"Oh, oink," Rita said.
"You think the prosecution knows stuff they haven't told you?" I said.
Rita had thick dark red hair which glinted in the sunlight that streamed through her big picture window.
"Maybe," she said.
"What about full disclosure?" I said.
"What about the Easter bunny?" Rita said. "You want to see what you can find out?"
—Reprinted from Widows Walk by Robert B. Parker by permission of The Putnam Publishing Group, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © 2002, Robert B. Parker. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.