Bye Bye Baby

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This comes pretty close to "phoning it in" territory. It's not awful, just lazy and formulaic. I know, I know: what did I expect? It's the tenth book in the Ace Atkins-authored implementation of Robert B. Parker's Spenser series. And I guess Mr. Atkins is OK with Parker's name appearing large and loud at the top of the book cover while is own is relegated small and discreet at the bottom.

As long as suckers like me keep buying the books, I guess he'll keep writing them. [Update: wrong! See below.]

The story this time: Spenser is hired to provide security for Boston's current CongressCritter, Carolina Garcia-Ramirez. She's up for re-election, she's running against the guy she defeated in the primary last time around. (Conveniently, he's labeled a "chauvinist pig" early on.) She has also received credible death threats. Being a black woman, there are often vile racist and sexist insults attached. Some loon threw a cup of urine on her down in D. C. There's a white supremacist group, the "Minutemen", that seem to be acting suspiciously. There are also mob ties.

Fortunately, longtime buddy Hawk is free to help out. And eventually, Spenser's somewhat newer buddy, Zebulon Sixkill, comes in from California to assist too. The bad guys don't have much of a chance.

I'd say Atkins is about 90% of the way toward a faithful mimic of Parker's prose style. Not bad. He's a little heavy on having Spenser drop literary allusions into his conversations. Spenser utters "We'd be fools not to" once. And Hawk says it too!

Like the previous entry in the Spenser series, the book has a "ripped from the headlines, but fictionalized" feel. The Congresswoman Carolina Garcia-Ramirez is an obvious takeoff on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; she's even referred to as "CGR" in places. Her opponents are cartoonish, exclusively racists and sexists, mostly violence-prone. There's no indication that Carolina's anything other than a saint, crusading for the little guys.

Nothing particularly unexpected happens. The thrilling climax is not that thrilling. There's a possible setup for the next book. But…

Atkins' website announced the book this way: "Ace’s last Spenser novel hits stores today." Hm. "Last" as opposed to "latest"? Am I reading too much into that?

Update: No, I was not reading too much into that: Ace is done.

Last Modified 2024-01-17 3:51 PM EDT