Putnam, $26.95, 306 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-16157-5
When a popular and prolific author dies, so do all of his or her characters. If the author in question has created a serial character, the mourning is even greater because the character is so beloved by legions of invested readers and fans . . . some of whom have been involved in reading the character’s stories from the authors first book to the last . . . that the publisher, working with the author’s estate, will print unfinished manuscripts and works in progress at the time of death. Sometimes, in really rare instances, another young, upcoming author will be hired to continue the deceased one’s work. Such is the case with Robert B. Parker’s Boston private eye—and everybody’s favorite tough guy—the wise-cracking and literate man known to all of us as Spenser.
Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland, by Ace Atkins is the second of his Spenser novels after he was handpicked by the Parker Estate to continue the tradition of the iconic Boston P.I. after Mr. Parker’s death in January of 2010. To his credit, Mr. Atkins moves seamlessly and flawlessly into the void, and continues the stories of the much-loved detective.
As Wonderland begins, Henry Cimoli, Spenser’s long-time friend and boxing trainer, asks him to do a favor . . . and push back against the two thugs who’ve been threatening him. They work for a developer who wants to buy the old beachfront condominiums where Henry and other retirees live. The old folks like it there, don’t want to sell and don’t want to move. Spenser and his young protogé, a Cree Indian from Montana named Zachariah Sixkill, step in to help. When ‘Z’ is badly beaten by three men with guns and lies in the Critical Care Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, the situation escalates, and Spenser takes it personally. It seems that an old amusement park known as Wonderland and billions of dollars . . . as well as in-state and out-of-state elements of organized crime are all involved . . . and the body count is starting to rise as Z tries to recover from his physical and psychological wounds. Lives hang in the balance as the action-packed adventure races toward it’s exciting conclusion. Ace Atkins is a worthy successor to Mr. Parker and Wonderland is great summer reading!