Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ace Hits His Stride

 Robert B. Parker’s - Cheap Shot - Ace Atkins (Putnam Publishing)

Back in 1989 Raymond Chandler’s estate selected with Robert B. Parker to finish he partial manuscript for a book called, Poodle Springs that Chandler left upon his passing. Parker was a solid choice to finish off the book featuring the hardboiled detective Philip Marlowe. At the time fans cried foul, complaining that Parker could never live up to standard Chandler had set.

Flash forward a few decades and now its Parker fans who grouse about the authors selected to continue the stories featuring Parker’s collection of memorable characters. Ace Atkins finds himself firmly in the least enviable position of picking up the reins of the series featuring Parker’s most famous character, Boston private investigator Spenser.

As a confirmed Parker fanatic I always approach these new efforts with a mix of excitement and trepidation that I temper with the clarity that no one can truly replace Parker. With his third outing carrying on the Spenser series entitled Robert B. Parker’s Cheap Shot Atkins really hits his stride. While to two prior efforts were chock full of references to familiar places and faces from Spenser’s world, this one keeps in place that cast while generating an original storyline that has a ripped from the headlines quality.

Take one highly paid NFL superstar, add some nightclub gun play, a dead body, shake with a curvy trophy wife who has substance issues and a checkered porn past and throw in a kidnapped son and the story is off to the races. Spenser is on the case weaving his way through the Boston underground to track down not only the kidnappers, but also the truth.

Rather than exercising his ability to simply name drop, Atkins uses those familiar characters to weave an entertaining tale anchored firmly by Spenser’s do the right thing moral compass.

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