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View Full Version : Any Spenser fans here?


OwlAtHome
02-17-06, 04:27 PM
Robert B. Parker's Spenser P.I. novels represent a genre my brother-in-law and I call the Meat-Head Genre. These are books for guys who like violence, humor, action, crimeworld themes, women and of course a decent story. And Spenser is guy's guy; a man I wish I was more like. He's Cool, noble, smart, funny as hell and he gets the ladies.

Other books that fall into this Genre are The Rain series by Barry Eisler and the Reacher novels by Lee Child. For those that like a little supernatural the Dresden books by Jim Butcher are good too.

My favorite so far is The Catskill Eagle and like all his stories this one would make an awesome film, I'd love to see the Jail break scene adapted to film before I die.

I've never seen the series 'Spenser: For Hire', I just don't picture Robert Urich as Spenser. For some reason It's always been Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson as Hawk.

Starting Oct '05 I've so far read these Spenser novels:

The Godwulf Manuscript (1974)
God Save the Child (1974)
Mortal Stakes (1976)
Promised Land (1976)
The Judas Goat (1978)
Looking for Rachel Wallace (1980)
Early Autumn (1981)
A Savage Place (1981)
Ceremony (1982)
The Widening Gyre (1983)
Valediction (1984)
A Catskill Eagle (1985)
Taming a Sea-Horse (1986)
Pale Kings and Princes (1987)
Crimson Joy (1988)




The Rest:
Playmates (1989)
Stardust (1990)
Pastime (1991)
Double Deuce (1992)
Paper Doll (1994)
Walking Shadow (1994)
Thin Air (1995)
Chance (1996)
Small Vices (1997)
Sudden Mischief (1998)
Hush Money (1999)
Hugger Mugger (2000)
Potshot (2001)
Widow's Walk (2002
Back Story (2003)
Bad Business (2004
Cold Service (2005)
School Days (2005)
Dream Girl (Coming 9/06)

JasonF
02-17-06, 06:04 PM
I've read most of the Spenser books -- I think I may be 1 or 2 books behind; the last one I read was the one where he investigates the Enron-like company. I've also read the Sunny Randall books, though for some reason, I never read any of the Jesse Stone books.

I really liked Urich as Spenser and Avery Brooks as Hawk. I liked that casting a hell of a lot more than Joe Mantenga and Shiek Mahmud-Bey. In fact, I really wish Spenser for Hire would come out on DVD.

If you like Spenser, you ought to check out some of the classic hard boiled detective fiction that Parker builds on -- stuff like Dashiell Hammet or Raymond Chandler.

Nick Danger
02-17-06, 09:24 PM
I read most of the Spenser novels that had been published up to 1988 or so. Then I sort of lost interest.

Parker hated the TV show. For a long time he refused to say anything about it, because they were paying him. He eventually started complaining about it anyway.

Parker wrote his doctoral thesis on Chandler and Hammett. Definitely read them. Mike Hammer is also worthwhile, if you can tolerate a psychopath as the leading character. I like them a lot.

I think the ultimate meathead detective is Travis McGee, in a series of novels by John D. McDonald. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travis_McGee

darkside
02-17-06, 09:55 PM
I like Spenser and just finished Bad Business. However, I really hate the character of Susan and feel the sappy relationship between the two has really hurt the series over the years. Nothing wrong with Spencer having a relationship, but Parker's dialog between the two is usually stomach wrenching.

Anyway its a good detective series and there have definitely been some solid novels especially if you go back to the early books.

Cedar
02-18-06, 09:28 AM
Do the Spencer books function as stand alones or is it suggested to read them in order? I've thought about giving him a try, but if I have to slog through thirty books to catch up with what is going on, not to mention the hassle of finding his early stuff for sale, I'd be inclined to pass.

JasonF
02-18-06, 02:00 PM
Each one is stand-alone in the sense that you can pick one off the shelf and have no trouble whatsoever knowing what is going on.

They do go in order in the sense that he might meet someone in book 4 who shows up again in book 7. There are probably 8 or 9 such recurring characters, and if you read the books in order, you get to see these relationships develop. But it's not necessary.

OwlAtHome
02-19-06, 02:18 AM
I've read most of the Spenser books -- I think I may be 1 or 2 books behind; the last one I read was the one where he investigates the Enron-like company. I've also read the Sunny Randall books, though for some reason, I never read any of the Jesse Stone books.

I really liked Urich as Spenser and Avery Brooks as Hawk. I liked that casting a hell of a lot more than Joe Mantenga and Shiek Mahmud-Bey. In fact, I really wish Spenser for Hire would come out on DVD.

If you like Spenser, you ought to check out some of the classic hard boiled detective fiction that Parker builds on -- stuff like Dashiell Hammet or Raymond Chandler.


I'd like to see the series. To be honest I've never seen Robert Urich in anything though I hear he holds the record for starring in TV shows. I remember Avery Brooks from American History X and can definitely see him as Hawk.

I'll probably pick up his non Spenser books someday, I hear he created Sunny Randall with Helen Hunt in mind.

Thanks for the suggestions on Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler. I've got a membership in the Hard Case Crime BC and those names pop up in some of the reviews.

djmont
02-19-06, 02:15 PM
Chandler and Hammett were the original giants of detective fiction, the writers who helped to create and shape the genre into what it became. Some of their stuff is a little dated now, but they're still very much worth reading. Chandler, in particular, was capable of beautiful writing, and Hammett could plot with the best of them. (It should be noted that both of those writers were much more stylized than the norm for the genre today, so it can take a little getting used to their writing.)

Robert Parker was another seminal figure in the development of the PI novel. Along with Dennis Lynds and Bill Pronzini, he was one of the major forces in transforming the detective genre from the early days of Hammett/Chandler/Ross Macdonald to the modern era of Lawrence Block/Michael Connelly/Dennis Lehane.

Some of Parker's earlier works were brilliant, among the best that anyone in the genre has written. On the other hand, in more recent years, he has grown increasingly prolific as an author and lazy as a stylist and storyteller. As a result, many of his books from the past 10-15 years haven't been very good. While most of them are still readable and modestly entertaining, they're only a shadow of the work he once was capable of producing.

As for the television series... I loved it. I thought both Urich and Brooks were well-cast and that the show captured most of the essence of the novels. Parker definitely hated it. But when the stories were adapted later on as TV movies, with a lot of input from Parker himself, they were terrible. So the author of the original work is not necessarily the best able to judge in these cases.