Robert B. Parker was once solicited to write mystery stories for Playboy. The renowned American crime writer was coaxed with offers of good pay and an "autographed picture of Hugh Hefner" before the magazine ultimately rejected his first (and only) submission.
Fortunately, the now 76 year-old author’s strengths were better appreciated in the world of book publishing. He is best known for his staggeringly popular Spenser mystery series, which has spawned 36 novels in as many years and triggered the 1980s TV series Spenser: for Hire starring Robert Ulrich. A scotch-drinking ex-boxer and Korean War vet turned private eye (who bears a suspicious resemblance to Parker himself), Spenser also starred in a TV mini-series featuring Joe Mantegna and Marcia Gay Harden, and his adventures are still going strong in Parker’s most recently published installation Rough Weather (2008).
The crime writer veteran also created the memorable, series-spawning characters of Jesse Stone, an alcoholic crime fighting police chief in Massachusetts, and Sunny Randall, who was apparently borne of Helen Hunt’s enthusiasm to act opposite a Parker hero (a project which never actually transpired). The Jesse Stone series recently graduated to the small screen in a series of TV movies featuring Tom Selleck; Stone Cold, Night Passage, Death in Paradise and Sea Change all received critical acclaim, and Selleck earned an Emmy nomination for the fifth installment, Thin Ice, which is based on a screenplay by Parker.
Parker is also the author of several non-fiction works, including Sports Illustrated Training with Weights (1974) and A Year at the Races (1990) which he co-authored with his wife, Joan. The author’s first young adult novel, The Boxer and the Spy was published in 2008 and a film adaptation of Appaloosa, his second ever western writing, was also released this year featuring Ed Harris, Jeremy Irons, Renee Zelleweger and Viggo Mortensen.
Admittedly influenced by the likes of Raymond Chandler, Parker is currently the author of over 70 books and an undisputed master of the American detective genre.
His most collectible work includes his debut book, The Godwulf Manuscript, published in 1974 and the 1982 limited editions of Surrogate (another Spenser adventure) – one edition was limited to 50 copies and the other to 300 copies. Signed copies of Parker’s books can be easily found – the author is a renowned signer.