The Barnes & Noble Review
A cold case leads to chills and thrills in this adventure of Robert B. Parker's tough, Boston-based private eye, Spenser. Over the years, Spenser has built up an impressive web of connections on both sides of the law. But he's going to need more than just connections to meet the challenges of his latest investigation, digging into the facts behind the death of a bystander named Emily Gordon during a still-unsolved bank robbery that took place 28t years ago. At the time, a band of revolutionaries calling themselves the Dread Scott Brigade claimed responsibility for the crime…but the authorities were never able to bring the criminals to justice. Any detective can tell you that answers are hard to come by even 28 hours after a crime. When hours turn to years, the difficulty level soars. Even a big fat fee wouldn't persuade Spenser to touch this case, if anyone but Paul Giacomin had brought him the case. But Paul is practically family, and he was asking Spenser to help his friend Daryl, the dead woman's daughter, to find the answers she needs to lay the past to rest. Soon Spenser is on the case, and up to his neck in everything from FBI cover-ups to Mob machinations. It doesn't take an old pro like Spenser long to realize that bringing to light the back story behind this decades-old crime involves uncovering public and private secrets that are still as deadly as ever. Sue Stone
Back Story wends and jerks its switchback way through geological layers of back stories, deceptions and lies evoked by an actress' wish to see more clearly into her own past, into who killed her mother and why: a bad idea that sets off mines in the present. But it is the book's genial mood, saucy tone and ripping action that discourage all attempts to put it down. — Eugen Weber
[W]hat makes this superior Parker is the moral dilemma. Spenser is pursuing a case that no one wants him to pursue, including the person who had asked him to in the first place, and six Krispy Kremes is not a good enough reason.
''I did this work because I could. And maybe because I couldn't do any other. I'd never been good at working for someone. At least this work let me live life on my terms . . . and if you are going to live life on your own terms, there need to be terms, and somehow you need to live up to them. What was that line from Hemingway? `What's right is what feels good after?' That didn't help. I took a long drink of Scotch and soda. There was that line from who, Auden? `Malt does more than Milton can to justify God's ways to man.' I could see my face reflected in the window glass. It was the face of a guy who used to box -- the nose especially, and a little scarring around the eyes.''
Genre writing doesn't get any better than that.The Boston Globe
Spencer is still the top dog.
Spenser's back, just the way we like him.
This is superior Parker.
Spenser's respectable 30th outing (he debuted 30 years ago in The Godwulf Manuscript) finds the veteran Boston PI teaming briefly with Jesse Stone, the cop hero of a newer Parker series (Death in Paradise, etc.). The move works because Parker plays it low-key, presenting Stone as just one of many characters who cross Spenser's path as the PI-hired by a friend of his adoptive son, Paul, for the princely sum of six Krispy Kremes-digs into the 28-year-old murder of a woman during a bank robbery; the friend is the slain woman's daughter and wants closure. Before Spenser bumps into Stone, the top cop in Paradise, Mass., he connects the killing to the daughter of big time Boston mobster Sonny Karnofsky, an old foe. When Spenser won't back off, Karnofsky threatens Spenser's girlfriend, Susan, then orders a hit on the PI. Enter as protection longtime sidekick Hawk; other series vets make appearances too on Spenser's behalf, including cops Belsen and Quirk and shooter Vinnie Morris. An interesting new character, a Jewish FBI agent, also helps out. The repartee between Spenser and Hawk is fast and funny; the sentiment between Spenser and Susan and the musings about Spenser's code are only occasionally cloying; and there's a scattering of remarkable action scenes including a tense shootout in Harvard Stadium. Series fans will enjoy this mix of old and new, but the title kind of says it all: this series, probably the finest and most influential PI series since Chandler, could use some forward momentum. (Mar. 10) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Wisecracks galore. Nonstop action. Suspense. Memorable characters. Unexpected twists and turns. Robert Parker is the Ernest Hemingway of mystery writers. In this, Parker's 30th crackling mystery novel with hero-gumshoe Spenser, our PI ends up with a case in which it seems no one wants him to succeed--including, ultimately, the person who "hired" him. She is an actress and the girlfriend of a young playwright/director who is like a son to Spenser. She wants the master PI to unearth the full story behind her mother's death in 1974. The mother was shot during a robbery in a bank where she'd gone to cash some traveler's checks. The crime, carried out by a revolutionary group, was never solved. (11 Aug 2003)
Spenser's back to help a friend of his prot g , Paul, track down the men who killed her mother years ago in a holdup. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Though Pearl the Wonder Dog has died, she’s promptly replaced by Pearl II in the most resonant image of Parker’s attitude toward her aging, ageless owner in his 30th appearance. What a guy that Spenser is. For a retainer of half a dozen Krispy Kreme donutstwo of them consumed on the spot by his old friend, playwright Paul Giacomin (Pastime, 1991), and his friend, actress Daryl Silverhe agrees to look again into the death of Daryl’s mother, Emily Gordon, who was shot down when a revolutionary group calling itself the Dread Scott Brigade robbed the Audubon Circle branch of the Old Shawmut Bank. The main problems facing Spenser are that (1) the fatal bank robbery took place way back in 1974, in a hazy world few people remember and even fewer want to; (2) the FBI report on the robbery and the Dread Scott Brigade has vanished with nary a trace of accidental misfiling; and (3) a Boston strongman named Sonny Karnofsky sends goons with guns to Spenser’s place to make it clear that he wants Spenser to let sleeping dogs lie, though not why that’s what he’d prefer. Of course, Spenser’s made plenty of enemies in his 30-year career (Widow’s Walk, 2002, etc.), but it’s rare that a single case has estranged the mob, the Feebees, and his own client, who’s so stung by the less-than-edifying revelations he digs up about her parents that she demands he shut down the investigation and stalks out of his office. Now if only Sonny Karnofsky and Co. believed he was really quitting. But Spenser is not without the usual resources: his backup/buddy Hawk, his kill-who-you-need-to bedtime shrink Susan, and his bulldog certainty that you can’t let go just because everybody around you tells you to.Mid-grade mystery buffed to a high gloss. Like it or not, Parker has made male posturing into an art form.
"The character sketches are Ginsusharp." -Entertainment Weekly
"Spenser's back, just the way we like him." -New York Daily News