Back Story

Parker, Robert B.

Published by Putnam, 2003
ISBN 10: 0399149775 / ISBN 13: 9780399149771
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First printing, full number line. Signed by the author on the title page: "Robert B. Parker." A Spenser novel (#30). Book is tight, square, and unmarked; corners sharp, spine ends lightly bumped. The dust jacket is not price-clipped (original price $24.95); "Borders Autographed Copy" sticker on front panel. Brodart protected. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: In 1974, a revolutionary group calling itself The Dread Scott Brigade held up the Old Shawmut Bank in Boston's Audubon Circle. Money was stolen. And a woman named Emily Gordon, a visitor in town cashing traveler's checks, was shot and killed. No one saw who shot her. Despite security-camera photos and a letter from the group claiming responsibility, the perpetrators have remained at large for nearly three decades.

Enter Paul Giacomin, the closest thing to a son Spenser has. Twice before, Spenser's come to the young man's assistance; and now Paul is thirty-seven, his troubled past behind him. When Paul's friend Daryl Gordon-daughter of the long-gone Emily-decides she needs closure regarding her mother's death, it's Spenser she turns to. The lack of clues and a missing FBI intelligence report force Spenser to reach out in every direction-to Daryl's estranged, hippie father, to Vinnie Morris and the mob, to the mysterious Ives-testing his resourcefulness and his courage.

Taut, tense, and expertly crafted, this is Robert B. Parker at his storytelling best.

Review: In this 30th entry in one of mystery fiction's longest-running and best-loved series, Spenser--the tough yet sensitive Boston private eye with no first name--takes on an unsolved murder nearly three decades old. The client, an actress, is a friend of Paul Giacomin, Spenser's surrogate son (who first appeared in 1981's Early Autumn). Her mother was slain by leftist radicals at a bank holdup in 1974, and now she wants to know who fired the shot. As Spenser digs into the past, he soon learns that powerful people on both sides of the law want the case left alone--badly enough to kill.

These death threats provide a fine excuse for Hawk, Spenser's extremely scary (yet sensitive) bad-guy pal, to tag along in nearly every scene as bodyguard. The interaction of the two friends is one of this series's familiar pleasures, as is the presence of Susan Silverman, Spenser's longtime love interest. Another pleasure is Parker's stripped-down prose, a marvel of craftsmanship as smooth as 18-year-old Scotch. (Plus we get the first meeting between Spenser and Jesse Stone, hero of another Parker series.) Alas, the whole enterprise feels a little tired. The plot never generates much sustained suspense, and the author's adoration for his central characters renders them at times almost cartoonesque. Still, Back Story is excellently prepared comfort food, even if it isn't five-star cuisine. --Nicholas H. Allison

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Back Story
Publisher: Putnam
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Hard Cover
Book Condition: Near Fine
Edition: First Edition

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