Double Deuce  
51 mVz cYL
Series Spenser
Publisher G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date 1992
Media type hardcover
ISBN 0-399-13754-8
Preceded by Pastime
Followed by Paper Doll

Cover InformationEdit

"For Karen Panasevich, who taught me about youth gangs, and about commitment. And for my wife and sons, who have taught me about everything else that matters."

Taken from the jacket of the hardcover edition.

"Spenser returns in an unflinching, rapid-fire tale of urban life--and death--on Boston's mean streets.

Double Deuce finds Spenser forced by loyalty into an alien world, where violence is a way of life and outsiders enter at a lethal risk. When Spenser's cohort, Hawk, is hired by the tenants of a gang-plagued Boston housing project known as Double Deuce, he enlists his friend's aid. A teenaged girl and her infant daughter have been gunned down. Although the act at first appears to have been an accidental drive-by shooting, it's soon revealed as premeditated murder.

Before they can solve the crime and see the perpetrator brought to justice, Spenser and Hawk must first take on an adolescent band of hardened urban warriors, led by a proud and lethal force of nature called Major Johnson. As bullets fly and the brutality escalates, Spenser learns more than he ever dreamed about a generation imprisoned in a hell of poverty and hopelessness--where muscle us the ticket to survival, and the surest way out is in a body bag.

Pulsing with raw power and moral complexity, Double Deuce is the kind of no-holds-barred action thriller only Robert B. Parker can create."

Recurring CharactersEdit

  • This is primarily a Hawk story, as we learn a little more information about his past (not that much, but it's something.
  • Spenser tries cohabiting with Susan for a while. More on that later.
  • And of course, Pearl the wonder dog makes an appearance as the "baby."
  • Since Double Deuce is a center for drug dealing, and it's an inner city ghetto, Tony Marcus (cf. Ceremony) is right in the middle of it.
  • Iris Milford (cf. The Godwulf Manuscript) is briefly mentioned as being a friend of Erin Macklin's, although we never actually see her.
  • Since there is a murder involved (three, actually), Belson and Quirk are directly involved, as well.

Literary References, or "The Annotated Gumshoe"Edit

Chapter 1:

  • "Winter's first green is gold" - From Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost. See Poetry

Chapter 2:

  • "In addition to leaping tall buildings at a single bound" - Superman (comic strip) [June 1938] (paraphrased). Also appears in chapter 18, again in reference to Spenser.

Chapter 3:

  • "The last ding dong of eternity." - I had skipped over this for years, thinking it referred to a chocolate-covered cream-filled cake, but George Waller tracked it down: Source: William Faulkner's Nobel Address in which he said: "I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail."

Chapter 7:

  • "Death is the mother of beauty" - Wallace Stevens, Sunday Morning [1923], stanza 5. See Poetry and Oft Quoted.
  • "Jealousy, thy name is canine." - Probably a play on "Frailty, thy name is woman!" - Shakespeare, Hamlet [1600-1601], Act I, scene 2, line 146.

Chapter 8:

  • "Kilroy was here" - Anonymous, Army Saying, World War II (also used by William Faulkner in Faulkner in the University [1959], Session 8).

Chapter 11:

  • "he likes to think he's a catcher in the rye" - A reference to the book The Catcher in the Rye [1951], chapter 22, by J. D. Salinger (which in turn refers to the refrain "Gin a body meet a body / Coming through the rye" by Robert Burns in Coming through the rye, stanza 1).

Chapter 15:

  • "Men! Can't live with them, can't live without them" - a play on Aristophanes's words in Lysistrata [411 B.C.], line 1038 (the original text as translated by Dudley Fitts was: "These impossible women! How they do get around us! / The poet was right: can't live with them, or without them!").

Chapter 16:

  • "Pays to understand your enemy" - Probably a tip of the hat to Aristophanes's Birds [414 B.C.], line 375: "The wise learn many things from their enemies."

Chapter 18:

  • "Dress for success" - See Oft Quoted
  • "The March for Democracy is not persuasive." - George Waller found the following: The March of Democracy (ASIN: B0006AOBNQ) is a two-volume book by James Truslow Adams, published in 1932 and 1933, chronicling the history of the United States of America. Its full name is The March of Democracy,: A History of the United States. It was published by C. Scribner's Sons. The first volume covers America from discovery to settlement in 1860, the second volume reviews the American Civil War and the industrial revolution's impact on the structure of the country.
  • Big Bird, a Muppet character on the children's television series Sesame Street, owns a copy of the work. This is meant completely as a hidden visual joke, as Big Bird's character is meant to be only 6-years-old, and relatively naive.
  • "[Did] You and God have a lovers' quarrel?" - The closest thing I can find is Frost's "lovers' quarrel with the world" quote, which I detailed in The Godwulf Manuscript. Check it out there.
  • "The ways of the Lord are often dark, but never pleasant." - See Oft Quoted.

Chapter 19:

  • "Nature hates a vacuum." - George Waller pointed out that I missed the reference in this book. I last explained it in chapter 21 of Valediction but here's a new rewrite: "The concept goes back to Aristotle, who in the fourth book of Physics (c. 350 BCE) carefully explained why a "void" is not possible. By the middle ages it was being referred to as "horror vacui." In 1638 Evangelista Torricelli inverted a tube filled with mercury into a pool of the same. The level fell a certain distance then stopped. He reasoned that it was not the "abhorrence of a vacuum" that was keeping the rest from falling, but was instead the weight of the atmosphere pushing down on the surface of the pool.
  • "There'll be one child left to carry on." - Iain Campbell noticed this one. "It is in essence part of the refrain of Blood Sweat & Tears' And When I Die by Laura Nyro." Indeed Laura wrote it in 1966 and BS&T had a hit with it in 1969. See Lyrics
  • "Pretty to think so." - See Oft Quoted.

Chapter 21:

  • "'Her voice make you think of perfume and silk lingerie?' I said to Hawk. Hawk shook his head. 'Money,' he said." - This one flew in under my radar but Jeff Spence wrote in to point out it bears a close resemblance to a scene from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Nick and Gatsby are talking about Daisy Buchanan: "'She's got an indiscreet voice,' I remarked. 'It's full of---' I hesitated. 'Her voice is full of money,' he said suddenly. That was it. I'd never understood before. It was full of money---that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals' song of it...High in the white palace the king's daughter, the golden girl..." Good call, Jeff, and thanks for giving me a reason to pull that baby off the shelf and read it yet again.
  • "And drank rapidly a glass of water" - e. e. cummings, a literary allusion. Glenn Everett supplies the text of the poem: "'next to of course god america i / love you land of the pilgrims' and so forth oh / say can you see by the dawn's early my / country 'tis of / centuries come and go / and are no more what of it we should worry / in every language even deafanddumb / thy sons acclaim your / glorious name by gorry / by jingo by gee by gosh by gum / why talk of beauty what could be more beau-/ tiful than these heroic / happy dead / who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter / they did not stop to think they died instead / then shall the voice of liberty be mute?' / He spoke. And rapidly drank a glass of water" That's particularly appropriate when you consider that Spenser used the "drank rapidly" quote in response to some political blather by Sam Albanese, a blatant publicity hound.

Chapter 23:

  • "The smile that launched a thousand commercials" - Probably a play on "[Was this] the face that launched a thousand ships" - See Oft Quoted.
  • "[There's] No business like show business" - The title of a song written by Irving Berlin, from the musical Annie Get Your Gun [1946]. Often sung by Ethel Merman. See Lyrics

Chapter 24:

  • "I drink the blood of my enemies" - Now this has got to be from something. It sounds so nasty... (It's likely from Psalm 63 and/or 68.)

Chapter 29:

  • "...streak into a kind of impressionist blur. Here's looking at you, Claude Monet" - The "here's looking at you [kid]" section is from the movie Casablanca, spoken by Humphrey Bogart (see Oft Quoted.) As for the "impressionist blur" and Claude Monet references, Monet was considered to be the first impressionist painter when his painting, Impression: Sunrise earned him the epithet "impressionist" from a scathing critic, and it stuck. There, Professorial mode off...
  • " at Giverney." - The Normandy home of Claude Monet, where he lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. A large number his famous impressionist paintings were done there; "beautiful" hardly begins to describe the place. I downloaded a few examples and included them here.

Chapter 30:

  • "I'll make no reference to the female of the species." - Iain Campbell caught this reference to The Female of the Species, a poem by Rudyard Kipling. "For the female of the species is more deadly than the male." See Poetry

Chapter 31:

  • "He can run...but he can't hide" - Thanks to Hisao Tomihari for pointing out this one. See Oft Quoted

Chapter 33:

  • "It's not just Major that you long for." - Bill Tobin wrote in to note that this is another reference to Spring and Fall: To a Young Girl by Gerard Manley Hopkins. See Poetry and Oft Quoted

Chapter 34:

  • "One must have a mind of winter to behold the nothing that is not there and the nothing that is." - Wallace Stevens, The Snow Man
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
This is particularly appropriate, since Spenser is trying to look at the gang kids as both inhuman predators and teenage humans at the same time, hence the "behold the nothing that is not there and the nothing that is" bit. I also put this in Poetry

Chapter 35:

  • "Windows of the soul" - William Blake, The Everlasting Gospel [written circa 1818], section 5, line 101.

Chapter 36:

  • "Order out of chaos" - I'm sure there are other references out there, but "order out of chaos" is the basic foundation for the idea of fractals (Benoit Mandelbrot and others). Check out the book Chaos by James Gleick [sp?], which discusses fractals in great detail. The idea of creating order out of chaos goes back to at least the ancient Babylonians, who believed the god Marduk did just that. The early parts of Genesis were a direct steal from those writings.
  • " famous as John Marsh." - Dennis Tallet wrote in explain how this relates to the previously mentioned Oliver North: "John Marsh. Democrat in a Republican administration and longest serving Secretary for the Army, 1981 - 1989, during the Iran-Contra affair but appears not to have had much involvement. Tony Marcus asks who he is and so do most of us, too. See On-line The Political Graveyard. 'Nuff said."

Chapter 37:

  • "A Canine American Princess." - George Waller points out that this is a take off on the phrase "Jewish American Princess." I found the following at Urban Dictionary .J.A.P. Jewish American Princess; a bitchy, spoiled, gold-digging Jewish female; Raised in a wealthy household, selfish, high-maintenance to the point of sheer insanity, stuck-up, the worst woman to date/marry on planet earth, yet deemed the most desirable by Jewish mothers, who attempt to force them down the throats of their unsuspecting sons (all for the sake of preserving "Jewish Heritage.") A Female who collects designer fashion items and status symbols (including men). Bane to the existence of dating men. The key to an unhappy relationship for the rest of your life. Large breasted, outwardly attractive, internally spoiled, greedy, complicated, self-righteous, and obnoxiously difficult and overbearing Jewish female. (There's a more balanced definition on Wikipedia under Jewish stereotypes.)
"Nothing wrong with that" is Susan's reply.

Chapter 38:

  • "And the more we asked where he was, the more no one knew." - Hisao Tomihari notes that this very much resembles a quoted from Winnie the Pooh. See Oft Quoted.
  • "How you feel 'bout the Easter bunny?" - Does Hawk think Spenser is being just a bit naive about Major's guilt? See Easter bunny

Chapter 40: "'Bye-'Bye, Miss American Pie" - Don McLean, American Pie. See Lyrics À votre santé - French: Literally, "to your health." Basically, "cheers!". Thanks go to Chris McLaren for confirming this one. Or as Mike always closed his letters to me, "Slaínte!"

Meanwhile, in the Spenser UniverseEdit

  • Spenser's back on coffee, after reading in the Globe that it's officially not bad for you...
  • Spenser has now tried living with Susan for a time, at Susan's request. It doesn't work out very well, however, because both Spenser and Susan need their privacy and space. Turns out that Spenser hung onto his apartment, since he had a good idea that it might not work. The basic rationale is that they value the times when they are apart because it makes the times when they are together that much more intense. However, part of the problem that drove Susan to ask Spenser to live with her was her desire for some "normalcy" in her life. She grew up as the daughter of a suburban family, with her father making the money and her mother making the home. She was expected to grow up to do the same: make babies and be a housewife. So she did. But the marriage was a disaster. Then when she took up with Spenser, the instincts started coming back, and she felt that she was doing something wrong by not being the dutiful housewife character again, so it drove her to try it. And it failed. However, there is a compromise. They will continue to have the intimacy of a married/live-in couple, but with not so close a proximity (and it seems to work better that way).
  • Once again, we realize that there are reasons for Hawk doing things that we can't even begin to understand. He's staking out these gangs for Jackie Raines, who is more than a little interested in him, but that may not be as significant as it seems. Turns out that in the end, Jackie admits that she loves him, but can't accept who he is or what he does. This is driven home when she is held hostage by John Porter, and Hawk shoots right past her into his shoulder. It wasn't so much the fact that he shot someone to save her life, it was the apparent lack of emotion when he did it. Perhaps Hawk is right; maybe he is incapable of love (cf. Pastime). As it turns out, Hawk realizes he's paid a big price for being what he is, and we realize that he is capable of love, deep down inside, but cannot allow it to get in the way of his work. And sometime it hurts.
  • Speaking of Hawk, we finally get a taste of his past. Hawk was an inner-city gang kid in his youth, just like Major Johnson. Hawk, however, had less than Major does, and managed to get out of it. Perhaps that is why he feels no sympathy for Major. Yet at the same time, he admits that Major is a lot more like him than a lot of people. In the end, when he gets Major to testify, he realizes that, like there was for him, there is hope for Major Johnson, as well. Perhaps we're going to see Major again as a Hawk-like character (perhaps even a protégé?) Who can tell?
  • A rather small Spenser's "Broo" list, this time:
    • Chapter 9: Catamount beer, at Susan's place after Spenser moves in. (Like I said, it was a short list. A lot of Irish whiskey and vodka martinis were drunk, however...)

Favorite LinesEdit

Chapter 4: The rules of the game

"'There some rules you probably didn't know about, 'cause nobody told you. So we come to tell you.'
Hawk paused and let his eyes pass along the assembled gang. He looked at each one carefully, making eye contact.
'Satan,' he said, 'you care to, ah, promulgate the first rule?'
'As I understand it,' I said. I was still watching behind us. 'The first rule is, don't sit on Hawk's car.'
Hawk smiled widely. 'Just so,' he said."

Chapter 4: Born and bred in the barbed wire patch...

"Hawk shook his head. He smiled. Uncle Hawk. In a moment he'd be telling them Br'er Rabbit stories."

Chapter 7: Spenser? Cynical? No way

"Susan and I were walking Pearl along the Charles River on one of those retractable leashes which gave her the same illusion of freedom we all have..."

Chapter 14: Yummy yummy yummy, I've got love in my tummy...

"'You don't meet that many shrinks that giggle,' I said.
'Or have reason to,' Susan said as her giggling became sporadic. 'What's for dessert?'
'I could tear your clothes off and force myself upon you,' I said.
'We had that last night,' Susan said. 'Why can't we have desserts like other people--you know, Jell-O Pudding, maybe some Yankee Doodles?'
'You wouldn't say that if I was as stunning as Hawk,' I said."

Chapter 15: Tell it like it is

"'I don't know no better, you understand. I is an under privileged ghet-to youth.'
'Mostly you are an asshole,' Hawk said. He was looking at Major now. His voice had no emotion in it, just the usual pleasant inflection.
'Not a good idea to dis me, Fro,' Major said. 'You in my crib now.'
'Not anymore,' Hawk said. 'Belongs to me.'
Hawk watched him until he was out of sight.
'I'm not sure it was fatherly to call him an asshole,' I said.
'Honest, though,' Hawk said."

Chapter 18: Once a leg man, always a leg man

"She [Erin Maklin] leaned back a little in her chair and crossed her legs, and automatically smothered her skirts over her knees. I liked her legs. I wondered for a moment if there would ever be an occasion, no matter how serious, no matter who the woman, when I would not make a quick evaluation when a woman crossed her legs. I concluded that there would never be such an occasion, and also that is was a fact best kept to myself."

Chapter 21: Sheesh, guys, sometimes a sexual innuendo is JUST a sexual innuendo!

"Her voice had a soft husky quality that made you think of perfume and silk lingerie. At least it made me think of that, but Susan had once suggested that almost everything did.
'Her voice make you think of perfume and silk lingerie?' I said to Hawk.
Hawk shook his head.
'Money,' he said.
'Everything makes you think of that,' I said."

Chapter 21: Tune in to "Spenser: Consultant for Hire" on TV this fall

"'This isn't the time,' Albanese said. 'But we don't appreciate a couple of hired thugs trying to do our job for us. It's vigilante-ism.'
'Actually,' I said, 'vigilante-ism would be if the residents banded together to do your job for you. This is more like consulting-ism, I think.'
'We the Arthur D. Little,' Hawk said, 'of hired thugdom.'"

Chapter 23: It's probably just Hawk...yeah that's it.

"'Just what is the issue with your black friend,' Marge said. 'We're out here trying to do a story that should help his people, and frankly, he seems to have a real attitude.'
'Hawk?' I said. 'An attitude?'
'Oh, come now, don't be coy, Mr. Spenser. What is his problem?'
'Why not consult with him?' I said.
'Well, I don't know where to find him, and in truth I'm more comfortable talking to you.'
'Is it because I'm so cuddlesome?' I said.
She smiled the smile that launched a thousand commercials.
'Well, that's certainly part of it,' she said.
'And I'm not a surly nigger,' I said. 'That's probably appealing too.'
'There's no need to be coarse,' Marge Eagen said. 'The stations are really behind this. We believe in the project. We care.'
'Hawk probably thinks you are a self-important ninny who is looking for television ratings and using the problems of the ghetto to that end. Hawk probably thinks that your coverage will do no good, and will make people think it's doing good, thus making things, if possible, worse.'
Marge Eagen's face got red.
'You arrogant fucking prick,' she said.
'Everyone says that,' I said.
She stood, and turned, angrily shrugging her coat back on.
'Of course maybe he just doesn't like having his picture taken,' I said. 'With Hawk you never know.'
She didn't answer. Without looking back she stalked out my door and slammed it shut behind her.
No business like show business."

Chapter 25: Always keep them guessing...

"'You notice,' I said to Susan, 'that the Kingfish accent seems to go away when he talks to Jackie?'
Susan smiled, which is something to see.
'Yes,' she said, 'but I am far too delicate to mention it.'
'That is mostly for you honkies,' Hawk said in a kind of David Niven accent, 'so as not to confound your expectations.'"

Chapter 28: Forgive me Spenser, for I have been a wiseass

"'How 'bout detecting?'
'I'm seeing a lot of the ghetto.'
Hawk nodded.
'Nobody has confessed.'
'Only a matter of time,' Hawk said. 'Nothing folks in the ghetto want to do more than to find some big honkie and confess to him. Been wanting to myself.'
'I don't want to hear it,' I said. 'It would take too long.'"

Chapter 29: This is the same guy who liked McDonald's food when he was younger

"Erin got back in the car. 'Want a cheeseburger?' she said.
'Too far from medical help,' I said."

Chapter 34: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies comes to my mind.

"Hawk popped the trunk and we each grabbed a shotgun. As we moved toward the back of the building each of us pumped a shell into the chamber at the same time.
'We could set this to music,' I said."

Chapter 41: Never know when you'll encounter a Panzer division on Boylston Street

"'We figured out exactly what we're doing?' I said.
I had on a blue sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off, and jeans, and white leather New Balance gum shoes. I wore a 9mm pistol in a brown leather holster on my right hip, and a pair of drop-dead Ray Ban sunglasses.
'Thinking 'bout making a citizen's arrest,' Hawk said. He was wearing Asics Tiger gels, and a black satin-finish Adidas warm-up suit with red trim. The jacket was half zipped, and the butt of something that appeared to be an antitank gun shoved under his left arm."

Chapter 44: Spartan, but very effective

"Quirk held Billy's right arm at an awkward angle with his left hand and reached around and took the Browning off Billy's hip. It was stainless, with a walnut handle.
'Nice piece. Don't you have one like it?'
'Mine's only got the black finish,' I said, 'and a black plastic handle. Got a nice white dot on the front sight, though.'"


  • Chapter 9: Chicken and peppers sandwich on seven-grain bread at their house.
  • Chapter 14: Chicken in a wine and lemon sauce, buckwheat noodles, broccoli, whole wheat biscuits at their house.
  • Chapter 21: Chicken fajita subs that Hawk bought on Huntington Ave., eaten in the car at Double Deuce. Chapter 26: Turkey cutlet sandwich on an onion roll with a lot of Heinz 57 sauce on it for breakfast at their house.
  • Chapter 31: Pork tenderloin, brushed with honey, sprinkled with rosemary, cooked in the oven. Corn flour biscuits with boysenberry jam. White beans and peppers doused with olive oil and cilantro.
  • Chapter 35: Brunswick stew with "sort of" dumplings that Susan made at their house.
  • Chapter 37: Whole wheat blueberry pancakes at their house.


  • Chapter 9: Catamount beer at their house.
  • Chapter 14: Sonoma Riesling with supper at their house.
  • Chapter 16: Catamount beer when he gets home.
  • Chapter 19: Irish whiskey in his office with Erin Macklin.
  • Chapter 25: Iron Horse champagne in the dining room atop the Bostonian hotel.
  • Chapter 30: More Irish whiskey at the office with Erin.
  • Chapter 32: Glenfiddich Single Malt scotch under the front seat of his car which he uses as a bribe to talk to Tallboy.
  • Chapter 33: Irish whiskey at the office again, with Erin and Hawk.
  • Chapter 35: Catamount beer at their house.
  • Chapter 40: Krug Rose champagne at their house for to go along with their little talk.
  • Chapter 42: Absolut vodka martinis with Belson at the bar in Grill 23.
  • Chapter 45: Absolut vodka martini in the dining room of the Boston Harbor Hotel. Another of the same back at his apartment.


  • This is the second book to use a point of view other than Spenser's, albeit briefly. The book starts with the focus resting on Devona Jefferson, the teenage girl who is killed in a drive-by shooting in the prologue. Parker did this at more length in Crimson Joy, when he entered the mind of the Red Rose Killer. Note that in both cases, the differing perspectives are italicized, and rather dark in mood and atmosphere.
  • Show me the money: Hawk is getting nothing for helping out at Double Deuce. Spenser wants half, but Hawk drives a hard bargain and makes him settle for a third :)

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