Now &Then by Robert B. Parker

Putnam, 2007, $25.95, 296 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-15441-6

This week, I stuck my arm w-a-a-y down in the old book bag, and just like Jack Horner, pulled out a plum: an unread Spenser novel by Robert B.Parker titled, Now & Then.

     The story begins when Spenser, Boston’s most well-known private investigator accepts a case from a man trying to find out if his wife is cheating on him.  It’s the type of job he wouldn’t accept under normal circumstances, but as he tells his long-time companion Doctor Susan Silverman; “Hey, business is slow.”  When the husband turns out to be a law enforcement officer, dead bodies begin turning up, and his beloved Susan’s life is threatened, Spenser is forced to call in the reserves to help protect her.  The action continues as the wise-cracking, well-read and tough detective tries to untangle an increasingly difficult case and solve a couple of old murders at the same time.  A fun and entertaining read that will have you cheering the good guy/bad guy posse on to the surprising conclusion.

     Sadly, the wellspring of creativity that flowed with such fecundity from his pen has run dry.  Robert B. Parker died in January 2010 at the age of 77.  Over the years, he authored more than 65 novels, and was the acknowledged master of the Raymond Chandler style of hard-boiled crime fiction.

     Believe it or not, I’ve read most of the Spenser books, around forty, and finding another unread one was as pleasant a surprise as reaching into the back of the sock drawer and discovering a couple of twenties tucked away and forgotten.  If you’re a fan of detective novels and haven’t read him yet, I recommend any of Robert B. Parker’s.  They’re all good, appropriate for early teens and up.

     You won’t find cash in a sock drawer at the Time and the Valleys Museum or the Daniel Pierce Library, but you will find whole worlds to discover there if you’ve an open mind and a curious nature.  Don’t be a bonehead . . .

     “One civilized reader is worth a thousand boneheads.” —  H.L. Mencken


John Dwaine McKenna