God Save the Child  
Series Spenser
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Publication date 1974
Media type hardcover
ISBN 0-796-20388-9
Preceded by The Godwulf Manuscript
Followed by Mortal Stakes

Cover InformationEdit

"This is for my mother and father"

Taken from the back cover of the paperback edition

Apple Knoll was just the kind of suburban spread where kids grew up right. But something had gone wrong. Fourteen-year-old Kevin Bartlett was gone, an assumed runaway -- until the comic-strip ransom note arrived.

It didn't take Spenser long to get the picture -- an affluent family seething with rage, a desperate boy making strange friends ... friends like Vic Halloway, a vicious bodybuilder as eager to pump iron as to break heads. Mr. Muscle was Spenser's only lead and he wasn't talking ... except with his knuckles. But when push came to shove, when a boy's life was on the line, Spenser could speak that brutal language too.

Recurring CharactersEdit

  • This is our first meeting with Susan Silverman , who of course ends up being the love of Spenser's life. Susan is Kevin Bartlett's guidance counselor, and in the course of interviewing Susan, Spenser becomes strongly attracted to her, has her over for dinner a few days later, and the rest is history (well, after a late return dinner date spent in a hotel lobby eating Baby Ruth bars, that is).
  • We also meet Lt. Healy, a state cop who pops up here and there in novels to come. A good man who is as hard-nosed as Quirk (who doesn't appear in this one, by the way).
  • We also meet Henry Cimoli , owner/proprietor of the Harbor Health Club, who used to fight with Spenser and lost a split decision fight to Willie Pep. Spenser used to work out at Henry's place when it was still the Harbor Gym. Now it's slightly more upscale...
  • Our first meeting with Race Witherspoon, flamboyant gay photographer. We won't see him again for almost thirty years in Widow's Walk but here he is.
  • Brenda Loring wrote a note suggesting they get together later in the fall. As we learned in Promised Land it did happen, but he later got hooked rather tightly with Susan.

Unanswered QuestionsEdit

  • Has Kevin resolved his inner turmoil? What about his confusion towards his sexuality?
  • So, did Dr. Croft manage to save Mr. Confidence's marriage? Dorothy Collins? Sheesh.

Literary References, or "The Annotated Gumshoe"Edit

Significance of the title: A slight rewording of the song God Bless the Child by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr. Blessing is not Spenser's job but saving sure is. See Lyrics

Chapter 1:

  • "somewhere the corn was probably as high as an elephant's eye" - Iain Campbell points out:"(and probably looks like it's reaching right up to the sky.) The song is 'Oh what a beautiful morning' from Rogers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!" 1943. See Lyrics.
  • "Gaminelike" - Gamine is French for "street kid" or "urchin." In the 1950's a very short hairstyle started to be adopted by petite, boyish-looking women. Cutting edge chic at the time, actresses Jean Seberg and Audrey Hepburn favored it, as well as Frank Sinatra's wife (see next entry.)
  • "Mia Farrow" -
  • "Or maybe I'd buy some orchids with it." Michael Simpson noticed this one: "Possible reference to the Rex Stout super-sleuth Nero Wolfe, as well-known for his expertise with orchids as for his investigative genius." And to think it took only thirty years for someone to make so obvious a connection. Thanks Michael.

Chapter 2:

  • "Maybe Squonto had made a mistake." - His name was really Tisquantum, and you can think fondly of him as you carve up the Butterball turkey next Thanksgiving. He learned English by being twice captured and sold into slavery, finally returning to his native village to find it wiped out by "white man's disease." When the Pilgrims arrived at that area in what we now call Plymouth they probably would not have survived without his knowledge of fishing, hunting, and agriculture specific to the area. Route 1 seems a pretty poor way to pay him back.
  • "Spontaneous Me" - Walt Whitman. It's one of the poems in Leaves of Grass and has to do with sex and procreation. Marge Bartlett seems to have noted the title but not bothered to look much further.

Chapter 4:

  • "I don't care about money, I just want my baby back" - Ransom [1956], spoken by Donna Reed.
  • "We'll get him back for you. You got my word on it" - The Searchers [1956], spoken by John Wayne.

Chapter 5:

  • "Nick Charles" - A former detective married to a rich socialite, he was the lead in the Daschiell Hammet novel The Thin Man(1934). William Powell and Myrna Loy starred in a very popular series of movies based on the characters.

Chapter 9:

  • "Isn't that the statue of the Indian in front of the museum?" - Spenser has finished the carving he was working on in The Godwulf Manuscript. See the pictures of "The Appeal to the Great Spirit" there.
  • "Leopold-Loeb" - Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, two teenagers with very rich fathers, decided to kidnap and kill a 14 year old boy then collect a ransom. They were confident it was the perfect crime, because who would suspect two wealthy young men of such a thing? Unfortunately Leopold dropped his eyeglasses while dumping the body and police were able to trace them through his optician. The only reason they didn't get the death penalty was that their lawyer was the legendary Clarence Darrow. As he explained: "From the beginning we never tried to do anything but save the lives of two defendants; we did not even claim or try to prove that they were insane. We did believe and sought to show that their minds were not normal and never had been normal."
  • "Ruth Judd" - In the fall of 1931, Winnie Ruth Judd got off a train from Phoenix at the Southern Pacific Railroad station in Los Angeles, accompanied by two trunks. A baggage agent noticed a foul odor issuing from the trunks and liquid leaking from one of them. The bodies of two Phoenix women were found inside: those of Agnes LeRoi, an X-ray technician; and of Hedvig Samuelson, a teacher. Judd was convicted of killing LeRoi. She was sentenced to death but later was declared insane and was sent to spend her life at the Arizona State Hospital. Her name stayed before the public for decades as news stories detailed her seven escapes. She finally was freed in 1971. She died in Phoenix in 1998 at the age of 93.
  • "Or maybe I grow old." - Iain Campbell points out that this looks like yet another tip of the hat to The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. See Poetry.
  • "Neither rain nor snow nor dark of night." - Is not the official motto of the United States Postal Service. They don't have one. This was a description of the Persian postal service circa 500 BC which was inscribed on the General Post Office in New York City.
  • "Hot dog" - See Oft Quoted

Chapter 10:

  • "1937 Hudson Terraplane" - Just the scavenged shell rusting away, but what a stylish car it was in its time.

    1937 Hudson Terraplane

  • "Let us reason together." - Isaiah 1:18: "Come now, and let us reason together." Lyndon Johnson popularized it in the sixties when he was president.
  • "If at first you don't succeed, the hell with it." - See Oft Quoted

Chapter 11:

  • No invitation to play tennis with Bobby Riggs in the Astrodome" - A 55 year old former tennis star and male chauvinist, Bobby loudly proclaimed that women could never be as good at tennis as men. With much hype he challenged then women's champion Billie Jean King to a "Battle of the Sexes." On 20 September 1973 they met in the Houston Astrodome before 30,000 spectators and a primetime TV audience of over 50 million. Ms. King won in three straight sets; 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
  • "Boston Athenæum" - One of the oldest and most distinguished independent libraries in the United States, it was founded in 1807 by members of the Anthology Society whose purpose was to form "an establishment similar

to that of the Athenæum and Lyceum of Liverpool in Great Britain; combining the advantages of a public library [and] containing the great works of learning and science in all languages."

  • "Faith Baldwin" - One of the most successful writers of light fiction in the 20th century. Between 1921 and 1977 she wrote over 60 novels. One source has this to say about them: "Typically, a Faith Baldwin book presented a highly simplified version of life among the wealthy. No matter what the difficulties, honor and goodness triumph, and hero and heroine are united. Evil, depravity, poverty, and sex found no place in her work, which she explicitly intended for the housewife and the working girl."
  • "Make love not war" - 1960s Peace slogan.

Chapter 12:

  • "The Summer Game" - Title of a book by Roger Angell published in 1973. He wrote articles about baseball in the New Yorker and put together several other books on the sport.
  • "Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse." - The research file is too long to include here. I moved the entry to Oft Quoted.

Chapter 13:

  • "All it needed to be September Morn was a nude bathing in the pool. I looked, just to be sure, but there wasn't any." Dennis Tallett writes: 'September Morn' was painted by Paul Chabas (1869-1937) a French painter. The critics called it mediocre. The nude painting adorned innocent boxes but it was the target of Anthony Comstock (1844-1915) to rid America of Lewd and lascivious art and literature. The reproductions were not selling too well until it was displayed in a New York window and Comstock invited to view it. The repros became an instant financial success." (Thanks also to Glenn Everett and Ray Radlein for their sleuthing on this.) And thanks to Iain Campbell for noting the following: "I was just looking at my notes on Chandler's similes etc. in The Long Goodbye, and it leaped off the page at me. On p.248 of my version he writes "as naked as September Morn." Parker wrote his Doctoral thesis on Raymond Chandler.
  • "Beauty is its own excuse for being." - Bill Tobin enters the hall of fame by tracked this one down. He pointed out that it's from Ralph Waldo Emerson's poem The Rhodora. See Poetry

Chapter 15:

  • "Jackie Susann...Jackie O...Jackie Coogan" - Which one did Susan win a look-alike contest of?
  • "His tailor looked to be Robert of Hall" - The Robert Hall chain of clothing stores died out some decades ago. High fashion they were not; yer average country bumpkin might stare in wonder at the fancy suits but they were pretty low end.
  • "Whither she goest you and I goest as well. Or at least I do." - Ruth 1:16: "Whither thou goest, I will go"
  • "[The] catcher in the rye" - Probably a reference to the J. D. Salinger book of the same name [published 1951].

Chapter 16:

  • "...Papa may have, but God bless the child that's got his own..." - Lady 'Day (Billie Holiday), Bless the Child. See Significance of the title above and I'll add another link to the Lyrics.

Chapter 17:

  • "Downstairs looked like the rape of Nanking" - Ray Radlein writes: "It was a War Atrocity. In World War II, the Japanese conquered much of China, including the city of Nanking. I'm not entirely sure what they did to Nanking that was remarkably worse than what they did to the rest of China, but 'The Rape of Nanking' is something which many people - including many Japanese - still feel the Japanese need make amends for." Reliable estimates indicate that as many as 300,000 Chinese civilians were slaughtered in the invasion of Nanking. Controversy has again broken out with the publication of new textbooks in Japan that downplay or fail to mention the numerous atrocities committed by the Japanese Army during this time.
  • "Kit Carson" - Enshrined in popular mythology even in his own lifetime, Kit Carson (1809-1868) was a trapper, scout, Indian agent, soldier and authentic legend of the West. The picture below is Billy Williams from the TV series Adventures of Kit Carson which ran from 1951 to 1955.
  • "I looked at my watch. Twelve minutes past ten in the morning." A tip of the hat to Nicholas Frail for pointing out this timing error. See Adventures in Time and Space in the Notes section.
  • "Out here on nature's bosom." - From Ode to Joy by Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805). An die Freude in the original German. "All creatures drink the joy from nature's bosom." Beethoven wrote a catchy little number to sing it to.
  • "We never sleep." - Iain caught this one too. See Oft Quoted.

Chapter 18:

  • "Jack and Jill magazine" - Since 1938 this children's magazine has been around to amuse and entertain kids. As far as I know they have had very few centerfolds of private detectives. "Jack and Jill stimulates young minds and imaginations with stories, articles, crafts, games, poetry, and humor. Creative, inventive, and fun this magazine will delight and amuse 7 to 10-year-olds for hours on end."
  • "Class will out" - Probably a play on "murder will out," a popular saying in detective fiction, meaning the murderer will be revealed. It's originally from The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. It's in The Nun's Priest's Tale, and the main thrust there is that murder is so repellent to God that he will not allow the criminal to go unpunished.
  • "Nuttings on the Charles" - A dance hall in Waltham on the shore of the river. Built in 1914, it burned to the ground in 1961.
  • "Phil Brito albums" - A singer of the big band era. Info is scarce.

Chapter 19:

  1. "Man of a thousand faces" - Lon Chaney carried this sobriquet many long years ago.
  2. "Bulldog Turner." - Clyde "Bulldog" Turner (1919-1998) played Center for the Chicago

    Bulldog Turner

    Bears for thirteen years and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966.
  3. "But oh so gentle." - Dennis Tallett noticed this one. See Oft Quoted.
  4. "My Prayer" - Written by Jimmy Kennedy and Georges Boulanger, the Platters took this to number 1 on the Billboard charts in 1956. See Lyrics

Chapter 20:

  • "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" - Music by Don Raye, Lyrics by Hughie Prince, the Andrews Sisters first sang it in the Abbot and Costello movie Buck Privates (1941) and it became one of the signatures tunes of the sisters and the war era. See Lyrics
  • "The grateful statue of the freed slave." - The statue Spenser found so offensive was

    Emancipation statue.

    Emancipation Group by Thomas Ball. The original was dedicated 1876 in Washington DC, facing the capital, and several Massachusetts congressmen persuaded the artist to make another copy for Park Square in Boston. It does seem a bit patronizing now.

Chapter 21:

  • "High necked white blouse and a small black bow tie. Dorothy Collins." - She is known primarily as the lead singer on the long-running 1950s NBC television show "Your Hit Parade."
  • "Snooky Lanson" - Another lead singer on the same show.
  • "The Mann Act" - Introduced by James Robert Mann in 1910, it forbids, under heavy penalties, the transportation of women from one state to another for immoral purposes. Because it sets the age of consent on the federal level at 18 years it also overrides state laws in prosecuting those responsible for child prostitution.
  • "That picture about the ball player with one leg" - That would be The Stratton Story (1949) with James Stewart starring in the true (as true as Hollywood ever gets it) account of Chicago White Sox pitcher Monty Stratton. After losing his leg in a hunting accident in 1938 he stayed on as a coach for some years. He later signed a minor league contract and in 1946 had an 18-8 record in the East Texas League.

Chapter 22:

  • "Annie Greenspring" - I doubt if they make this cheap wine anymore; it seems more like a 70's thing. Think screwcaps, think Boone's Farm, think Ripple.
  • "A big print of Guernica" - On April 26th 1937, a massive air raid by the German Luftwaffe on the Basque town of Guernica in Northern Spain shocked the world. Hundreds of civilians were killed in the raid which became a major incident of the Spanish Civil War. Pablo Picasso's painting of the event has been the subject of more books than any other work of modern art and it is often described as..."the most important work of art of the twentieth century." Take a look at it here
  • "Hot-diggity" - See Oft Quoted
  • "Baudelaire" - Charles-Pierre (1821-1867), a leading 19th century French poet. Since no titles are mentioned I hesitate to put one on the Poetry page so I invite you to look them up on your own.
  • "Darling je vous aime beaucoup, je ne sais pas what to do." - A French/English song written by Anna Sosenko in 1936, an artist who specialized in such "frainglish" songs. It was first performed in the movie "Love and Hisses" in 1937. Nat King Cole had a hit with it in 1955 and that is what Spenser no doubt remembers.
  • "Enough with the love talk, off with the clothes" It took until nearly the end of 2005 before someone answered this. See Oft Quoted

Chapter 23:

  • "Rex Morgan" - This popular comic strip has been around around since 1948 and was created by Dr. Nicholas P. Dallis, a psychiatrist. To quote from the King Features Syndicate: "Dr. Dallis created Rex Morgan not only as an exciting and entertaining comic strip, but also as an educational tool: a comic strip that would heighten the awareness of readers about the importance of modern medicine."
  • "Kay Kaiser" - Band leader in the 30's and 40's, he is best remembered for his light hearted radio show "Kay Kaiser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge" which ran from 1941 to 1947.
  • "Red nineteen-sixty-eight Chevy convertible. Mass. plates seven-one-two-dash-two-three-four." - The Spensermobile at that time. Any chance of tracing a plate from the early seventies? The Registry of Motor Vehicles won't take my calls.

Chapter 24:

  • "Marlin Perkins" - former host of the TV show Wild Kingdom. Bob Ames said: "Wild Kingdom didn't sell commercial time, it was a wholly owned production of Mutual of Omaha, a not unusual occurrence in those days. The series featured taped segments of a strapping jungle explorer type named Jim who actually went out in the wilds and wrestled lions, or got staked out as bait for the pumas, or some such daring feat. After that they would cut back to Marlin standing in an office with a cuddly and harmless animal, and he would praise the ways of the wild while leading us into a commercial for the above mentioned insurance company."

Chapter 25:

  • "We who are about to die salute you." - Morituri te Salutamus in the original Latin. Supposedly what the gladiators would say to the Emperor before they fought in the Coliseum for the amusement of the crowds, although historians say that's just an urban legend.. BTW, most of the research I've seen indicates that a "thumbs down" meant "put down your sword and spare the life of your opponent." The signal for death was the thumb thrust outward in a stabbing motion.
  • "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." - Iain caught another one I missed. See Oft Quoted.

Meanwhile, in the Spenser UniverseEdit

  • Well, the way Spenser seems to be checking Susan out and describing her, she's a pretty special lady (as those of us who have read the rest of the books will attest). Indeed, she turns out to be the love of his life. At the present time of writing this guide page, Susan has shown up in every single book since.
  • We've established that Susan is Jewish, but not Orthodox. We see the evidence of her religion in a later book, when Spenser notes the absence of any Christmas decorations on her house.
  • Looks like Smithfield's gonna need a new chief of police.
  • Ah, good old Smithfield. I took note of which towns were noted as bordering on it, which highways were mentioned as running through it and such, then sat down with a book of local maps. The town he renamed is Lynnfield, a suburb a little north of Boston.
    • And after all that trouble I finally found a copy of Spenser's Boston, which is mainly a book of photographs taken by Kasho Kumagai. Shots were taken in Boston, Cambridge, and (you guessed it) Lynnfield, where Robert and Joan Parker lived before moving to the house in Cambridge.
    • BTW: Rhonda Rosenheck wrote in to ask the following very good question: "I've been wondering why Parker, who is notably accurate in all his other place names (in the Spenser series) calls what is obviously the town of Lynnfield, "Smithfield." You can even get to it by driving up the Lynnway!" In the normal books he can get away with calling the towns what they are, but in this one the police chief turned out to be involved in corruption and murder. For legal reasons and to make very clear that this was a work of fiction he had to change the name.
  • Spenser finally finished the Indian statue he was working on...

Favorite LinesEdit

Chapter 1: 20% off middle-aged gumshoes at Detective World, while supplies last!

"He hunched the chair forward and wrote a check on the edge of my desk with a translucent ballpoint pen. Bartlett Construction was imprinted in the upper left corner of the check--I was going to be a business expense. Deductible. One keg of 8d nails, 500 feet of 2x4 utility grade, one gumshoe, 100 gallons of creosote stain."

Chapter 2: The right to carry concealed weapons

"'Do you look great with your shirt off, Mr. Spenser?' Her unlighted cigarette bobbed up and down in her mouth as she talked.
'Yeah, but I usually wear one because my tommy gun tends to cut into my skin when I don't'"

Chapter 2: An impertinent little brew, with a good nose and a fine finish, but...

"Trask belched, less softly than he had the last time.
' 'Scuse me, Marge,' he said.
'Lotta gas in that 'Gansett," Roger Bartlett said. 'It's a real gassy beer. I don't know why I buy it, it's real gassy, ya know?'
I opened up my second can of beer and swallowed. Gassy, I thought."

Chapter 3: They don't tell the kids all they should know about career choices

"I picked up one of the career leaflets on the table. Nursing, Air Force, G.E. Apprentice Training. I wondered if they had one for Private Eye. I looked. They didn't."

Chapter 4: Is that what it's called?

"Healy said, 'Didn't you used to work for the Suffolk County DA once?'
I said, 'Yes.'
'Didn't they fire you for hotdogging?'
'I like to call it inner-directed behavior,' I said.
'I'll bet you do.' Healy said."

Chapter 9: Spenser's boxing tip #722: Ring etiquette

"'What ever happened to your nose, Mr. Spenser?'
'A very good heavyweight boxer hit it several times with his left fist.'
'Why didn't you ask him not to do that?'
'It's considered bad form. I was hoping for the referee.'"

Chapter 10: Just doing my job, ma'am

Susan Silverman said, 'Were you looking down the front of my secretary's dress when I came in?'
'I was looking for clues,' I said. 'I'm a professional investigator.'"

Chapter 13: 'e was a brave little pig...

"'Where's the evidence?'
I nodded at the box on the table.
'You been messing with it?' Trask said. Tough as nails.
'Not me, Chief. I've been keeping it under close surveillance. I think the guinea pig is faking.'"

Chapter 13: Did you have to walk 5 miles in 8 feet of snow to get that nourishing bag?

"'Had breakfast?' I really know how to talk to kids. After that I could ask her how she was doing in school, or maybe her age. Really get her on my side.
She shook her head and nodded at the Fritos.
'You'd be better off eating the bag,' I said.
She giggled. 'I bet I wouldn't,' she said.
'Maybe not,' I said. 'Bags aren't nourishing anymore. Now when I was a boy...'
She made a face and stuck out her tongue. 'Oh,' I said, 'you heard that line before?'"

Chapter 13: ...and then twist it into a pretzel

"The caption said, 'Vic Harroway, Mr. Northeastern America, Combines Weight Lifting and Yoga.' I read the story. It said the same thing in supermasculine prose that made me want to run out and uproot a tree.'"

Chapter 14: Some people think only of themselves

"'Stay here,' I said.
'Earl Maguire is dead in your living room.'
'My God, the party's in six hours.'
'Inconsiderate bastard, wasn't he,' I said.

Chapter 15: Rescuing maidens sucks if your gun clashes with your attire

"I clipped my gun on and went back downstairs. I hoped there'd be no gunplay tonight. My hip holster was brown, and it didn't go with my outfit."

Chapter 15: Spenser, jack of all trades

"'What do you do?'
'I'm a grape stomper at a winery. I stopped here to get my feet bleached.'"

Chapter 15: So that's how he does it

"'Are you really a bodyguard?' Baggy-eyes said.
'Do you have a gun?'
'No,' I said. 'I have this mysterious power I acquired in the Orient to cloud men's minds so they cannot see me.'"
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

Chapter 17: Even the cops get good lines sometimes

"The Smithfield police cruiser was parked in the driveway again. Ever vigilant. I found an electric percolator and made coffee. I brought a cup out to the cop in the driveway.
I hadn't seen him before. He had freckles and looked about twenty-one. He was glad to get the coffee.
'You going to be here all day?' I asked.
'I'm on till three this afternoon, then someone else comes on.'
'Okay. I'm going to be gone for a while, so stay close. If they're looking for me, tell them I'm working. Don't let her go out alone, either.'
'If I have to take a leak, is it okay if I close the door?'
'Why don't you wait till you're off duty,' I said.
'Why don't you go screw an onion,' he said.

Chapter 18: Well, no gift subscription for you, young lady

"'What is it you wish to see him about?'
'I'm posing for the centerfold in the December issue of Jack and Jill and wondered if Race would be willing to handle the photography.'
She picked up the phone and pressed the intercom button. 'Mr. Witherspoon? I'm sorry to bother you, but there's a man here who says his name is Spencer. He said something about posing for some pictures in Jack and Jill. I'm not familiar with it. Yes sir.' She hung up and said to me, 'Mr. Witherspoon says to come in. He's right through that door.'
'Jack and Jill,' I said, 'is a magazine that celebrates the heterosexual experience.' She looked at me without expression and said, 'Why don't you shove Jack and Jill magazine up your ass.'"

Chapter 18: Sexual preferences R us

"Witherspoon shook his head. 'No, I don't know him all that well, only seen him around. He's not my type.'
'Okay,' I said. 'Thank you.'
'Now, on the other hand,' Witherspoon said, 'you are.'
'Not with someone who won't give his real name,' I said.
'Well, how about Denise then?'
'Not till you feed her,' I said. 'Your secretary, however, is another matter.'
Witherspoon gave me a big smile. 'Sorry, old Spenser, she's hot for Denise.'
I said, 'I think I'll go look for Harroway before I find myself mating with a floor lamp,' and I left."

Chapter 21: Take two of these and call me in the morning

"Wise old Doc Croft. Save your marriage, son; get out and screw a groupie."

Chapter 23: I wonder how much he makes a year...

"There were four people in Croft's office, three women and a man. Well, you see, Doctor, I'm horny but my spouse thinks I'm a creep. Oh, yes, of course, I'll make an appointment for you with Doctor Harroway, my horniness consultant."

Chapter 23: No, he doesn't seem the type, does he?

"'A little business card, printed up with just a phone number on it, for the sexually dysfunctional? Harroway? Harroway's idea of a subtle pander would be to stand on the corner near the Fargo Building yelling, "Hey sailor, you want to get laid?" You thought of this, and you're in it like an olive in a martini.'"

Chapter 23: But at least he'll do it by the book...

"'Who is Healy?'
'State cop, works out of the Essex County DA's office. Don't offer him money. He will deviate your septum if you do.'"

Chapter 24: Everyone loves the Spensermobile

"I parked beside him in the turnaround, and he looked at me over the top of the magazine as I got out. 'Better not park that thing on the street on trash day,' he said.
'Don't your lips get tired when you read?' I said.
'Your ears are gonna be tired when Mrs. Bartlett gets talking to you. She's been calling you things I don't understand.'"

Chapter 25: And in our irony department..

"Kevin was crying too now, and behind me I could hear Marge Bartlett begin to wail. Jesus. Maybe I should get out of this line of work. Get into something simple and clean. Maybe a used car salesman. Politics. Loan sharking."

Chapter 25: Spenser's boxing tip #314

"Ought to warm up, really. Should do some squat jumps and stretching exercises before you have a fight with a 215-pound body-builder who probably killed a guy with his fist last week."


  • Chapter 3: Breakfast at home:
    • Two sliced green tomatoes, sprinkled with black pepper and rosemary, dipped in flour and fried in olive oil.
    • A broiled porterhouse steak
    • Syrian bread
    • A bowl of blackberries.
  • Chapter 8: Dinner at his apartment with Susan.
    • Pork loin en croute with Cumberland sauce.
    • Green apples, carrots and red onions simmered in butter and cider.
    • French bread
    • Sliced native tomatoes on a bed of Boston lettuce with oil and vinegar.
  • Chapter 12: Turkey and mayo on oatmeal bread, with a little splash of scotch, at the Bartlett's.
  • Chapter 17:
    • Memories of American chop suet
    • Three hamburgers in a "pub."
  • Chapter 18: Fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee, two egg rolls, three slices of williamsburg ham, paper thin slice of red onion, and some tomato quarters. Sour cream on the side. He really likes a hearty breakfast.
  • Chapter 21: Hot corn muffins and cold vealwurst for breakfast at home.
  • Chapter 23: A cassoulet at two-fifteen in the morning at Susan's.


  • Chapter 2: Narragansett at the Bartlett's.
  • Chapter 8: Amstell at home while preparing supper for Susan.
    • Vodka gimlets before dinner, brandy after.
  • Chapter 15: Beer at the Bartlett's party.
  • Chapter 17: Three half-quart steins of beer in a "pub."
  • Chapter 19: Miller's draft at the Odd's End. Cognac when he returned later, drenched.
  • Chapter 22: Champagne at Susan's house. He bought Dom Peringnon, she bought Mumm.
  • Chapter 23: Beaujolais with dinner.
  • Chapter 26: Bourbon at Susan's house after his battle with Harroway.


  • Oops: Chapter 10 - "On my right was a pasture with black and white Ayrshire cows..." As frequent contributor Iain Campbell notes: "Spenser gazes out on the scene of black and white Ayrshire cattle grazing. Whoa, back up, black and white Ayrshires? In my rural youth, and on today's Ayrshire websites, Ayrshires are brown and white. If these cattle are black and white, they are more likely to be Holsteins." Ayrshires are a popular breed here in New England because our weather is not unlike that of County Ayr in Scotland where they were first bred, but their spots range from a bright red to at most a dark mahogany.
  • Oops: Chapter 17 - "I kept thinking about the American chop suey my mother used to make and how I felt after I'd eaten it." A good comment on the concept of "comfort foods" but as we know Parker later changed his mind about Spenser's childhood.
  • Adventures in Time and Space: Sometimes it takes as little as three decades before someone points out a very obvious error. Nicholas Frail wrote the following about the events in chapter 17: "Spenser wakes up at 10am. He then proceeds to stand under the shower for a long time, make coffee, chat with the cop, drive to Harroway's house and walk through the woods to get a better look. He looks at his watch and it says 10:12am. He certainly did a lot in a short period of time."
  • Adventures in spatial orientation: Once again it only took 33 years since the publication date before Cheryl Drefs wrote in to point out the obvious: "In Chapter 10, as Spenser and Susan are headed out to find and interview the residents of a sort of commune, it relates their driving directions. It mentions "We drove out of the parking lot, turned left toward the center of town, and then right on Main Street and headed north." A couple of sentences (actually paragraphs) later: "We turned left off Main Street and headed east." Here's my problem with that: If they're headed north, and then turned left, they would be heading WEST, not east. At least, last time I checked a compass or a map, that's generally the direction of things. Heading north - west would be to your left, east would be to your right.
  • Those golden days of yore: Maguire had an expensive layered razor cut. "Six bucks, easy, I thought, for that kind of haircut."
  • Show me the money: Spenser gets paid for this adventure, although as noted earlier he may show up as a tax deduction.

Previous book: The Godwulf Manuscript • Next book: Mortal Stakes

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