Friday, June 26, 2015

A Headline Ripping Spenser

Robert B. Parker’s Kickback – Ace Atkins – (Putnam)

Law and order is always an easy sell; keeping in line those who choose to paint outside the lines of the law. In an effort to keep delinquent teens in line a supposedly by the book judge is taking said book and tossing it squarely at those wrong doers. The problem…the judge seems to be writing his own book and isn’t playing by the rules himself. These so-called criminals get sent in droves to a mysterious, privately owned island prison camp.

Magically the judge seems to be living well beyond his means; is something nefarious afoot? Bestselling author Ace Atkins artfully fills the substantial shoes of legendary tale-spinner Robert B. Parker in his latest Spenser outing, Robert B. Parker’s Kickback by ripping a page straight out of recent headlines.

For unfortunate parents and residents who call Central Pennsylvania home, this story may ring all too familiar. The so-called cash for kids scandal involved a pair of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas judges; President Judge Mark Ciavarella and Senior Judge Michael Conahan, who were found guilty of accepting cash payments in excess of $2.5 million in exchange for feeding a steady stream of youthful offenders to a privately owned incarceration facility.

Zero tolerance is the order of the day in Blackburn, Massachusetts and teens convicted of minor or non-existent crimes find themselves being shipped off to an island prison camp. When a parent raises questions about the whole process, Spenser once again rides the rescue looking to right wrongs and put bad guys in their place. Atkins does a nice job of mixing classic Parker’s characters into the mix along the way. This one is a tight read and a perfect Spenser-ish story line.   

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