The SPENCER series

by Robert B. Parker

The late Robert B. Parker was a prolific writer in the “good guys” vs. “bad guys” genre. His series of books featuring his tough guy, Spenser, was a large part of his efforts and left him with a series of best-sellers longer than Marlon Brando’s belt. Beginning back in 1973 with THE GODWULF MANUSCRIPT, Parker turned out 38 Spenser novels prior to his death a few years ago, and secured himself a place among the most successful series writers ever.

The main character in these works is Boston private detective, Spenser...just Spenser. Ex-boxer and ex-cop, Spenser moves through these novels like an ocean liner through row boats committed to finding the truth, no matter the risk, no matter the opposition.

The novels are sprinkled with returning characters; some that the reader gets to know and love nearly as much as the salty detective himself. Among the cast is Spenser’s most dependable sidekick, Hawk. Large, black, bald, and enigmatic, Hawk adds an implacable presence to Spenser’s hard-assed wise-cracking likeability and creates a workable balance between the two that compliments each of the characters and gives the reader both sides of the tough-guy coin. Where someone might say “oh, yeah?” to Spenser, they say “yes, Sir” to Hawk.

The Spenser series has birthed a few made for TV movies over the years, and a four-season television series called SPENSER FOR HIRE, starring Robert Urich. Parker’s Spenser books are often judged as pulp fiction, and I suppose they are, but they are marvelous pulp fiction and wonderful escapism.

Robert B. Parker will never write another book, but Spenser is still going strong. And as long as he is, a little bit of Mister Parker is, too.

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