Hush Money  
Series Spenser
Publisher G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date 1999
Media type hardcover
ISBN 0-399-14458-7
Preceded by Sudden Mischief
Followed by Hugger Mugger

Cover InformationEdit

"For Joan: all the day and night time" (see annotation below)

From the dust jacket of the hard cover edition:

Spenser investigates shady dealings behind the ivy-covered walls of academe, where political maneuverings take on deadly proportions.

"Parker says he'll keep writing Spenser novels as long as the public wants to read them, which probably means he'll need to keep writing them for the rest of his life. Spenser is 'the very model of a modern major shamus,'" proclaimed The Boston Globe in a review of Robert B. Parker's most recent New York Times bestseller, Sudden Mischief. With Hush Money, Parker adds another classic to the legendary series, with a morally complex tale that pits the burly Boston P.I. and his redoubtable cohort, Hawk, against local intellectual heavyweights.

When Robinson Nevins, the son of Hawk's boyhood mentor, is denied tenure at the University, Hawk asks Spenser to investigate. It appears the denial is tied to the suicide of a young gay activist, Prentice Lamont. While intimations of an affair between Lamont and Nevins have long fed the campus rumor mill, no one is willing to talk, and as Spenser digs deeper he is nearly drowned in a multicultural swamp of politics: black, gay, academic, and feminist.

At the same time, Spenser's inamorata, Susan, asks him to come to the aid of an old college friend, K.C. Roth, the victim of a stalker. Spenser solves the problem a bit too effectively, and K.C., unwilling to settle for the normal parameters of the professional-client relationship, becomes smitten with him, going so far as to attempt to lure him from Susan. When Spenser, ever chivalrous, kindly rejects her advances, K.C. turns the tables and begins to stalk him.

Then the case of Robinson Nevins turns deadly. It is, Spenser discovers, only the tip of the iceberg in a great conspiracy to keep America white, male, and straight. Spenser must call upon his every resource, including friends on both sides of the law, to stay alive.

Recurring CharactersEdit

  • Hawk, who asks Spenser to help out the son of an old friend.
  • Susan, who asks Spenser to help out an old friend.
  • Belson, a trusting soul who knows Spenser would never poke his nose into confidential police files.
  • Henry Cimoli, small but agile, and a good cut man to see after a little scuffling.
  • Lee Farrell, for help with how the gay thing is troubling Spenser's conscience.
  • Healy, who traces the plane Amir traveled in. He's a Captain now.
  • Brenda Loring, whose naked body Spenser fondly remembers after all these years. Thanks to Joel Cassaway for bringing it to my attention.

Unanswered QuestionsEdit

  • Billy Miles wrote in with an inconsistency I missed. In Ch. 7, KC says that Vincent lives in Hingham. In Ch. 15 he notes his wife in Weston, which place he gets home to at least three nights a week. Then in Ch. 21 Spenser consults the Hingham police chief about stalkers who are residents in town. So he seems to own two places, but it's not very clear which is his legal residence.
  • Rahmani Vanterpool asked another interesting question. In Ch. 44 Spenser's car in blown up in front of his apartment on Marlborough Street. The first thing he does in Ch. 45 is drive out to the Sea Mist Inn. Did he rent a car, borrow one from someone, or get the fastest insurance settlement in history and buy a replacement?

Literary References, or "The Annotated Gumshoe"Edit

Significance of the dedication: "All the day and night time" is from the song I've got a Crush on You written by George and Ira Gershwin for the 1928 musical Treasure Girl. See Lyrics

Chapter 2:

  • "Tasteful in small things, tasteful in all things." - I had no luck with this one, but Iain Campbell writes: "It rings like Matthew 25:23, the parable of the talents where one servant is 'faithful over a few things, and I shall make thee ruler over many things.'" It works for me.
  • "A watched pot never brews." - A play on "a watched pot never boils," a proverb.
  • "Mantan Moreland." - A black actor who starred in several mid-century movies. By today's standards it was a sickeningly stereotypical "negro" role.
I wrote the above off the top of my head but Dennis Tallett went through the trouble of doing some research: "Mantan Moreland (1901-1973) made over thirty movies but came to fame as Birmingham Brown in the Charlie Chan series in the early 1940's bringing some comic relief."
And just to round this out, the Charlie Chan movies started in the 30's starring Warner Oland. When he died in 1938 Sidney Toler stepped into the role, and was the star in Mantan's time. I will leave further research as an exercise for the student, but Chan was a stereotypical "oriental" detective who quoted "old Chinese sayings" of dubious origin. As a more modern example George Peppard spoofed the idea as a Polish detective in the TV series Banacek (1972-1974) who obviously made up his quotes on the spot.

Chapter 3:

  • "It was a smile that could easily have launched a thousand ships." - See Oft Quoted.
  • "Before or after the cock crowed?" - A reference to Luke 22, where Peter denies Jesus three times.

Chapter 4:

  • "Did a Brody out the window." - The actual spelling of this slang term is Brodie. In 1886 Steven Brodie claimed to have been the first person to survive jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, although there were no witnesses. The George Raft movie Belson refers to is The Bowery, 1933. By that time it had come to mean committing suicide by jumping from a high place, or simply committing a spectacular failure.

Chapter 5:

  • "A field of daffodils in bloom." - At first I believed it might be from the poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth, 1804. See Poetry
  • Dennis Tallett suggests it may be from The Daffodil Fields by John Masefield, Poet Laureate of Britain from 1930-1967. "There are several quotes in this long poem on daffodils like:- / He had to cross a brook, to cross a field, / When daffodils were thick when years were young." -Part VI, stanza 49
  • "Course of true love never did run smooth." - See Oft Quoted

Chapter 6:

  • "working for the Yankee dollar." - From the song Rum and Coca-Cola, made famous by the Andrews Sisters in 1944. See Lyrics. BTW: Morey Amsterdam (a comedian best known as Buddy Sorrell on the Dick Van Dyke Show) came back from Trinidad in 1941 claiming to have written the song, and so it is still reported just about everywhere. It took over three years for Rupert Westmore Grant (AKA Lord Invader) to prove in court that he was ripped off on the words and Maurice Baron had to do the same to prove he composed the music.
  • "Give a squirrel a peanut and you feed him for a moment," I said. "But teach him to grow peanuts..." - Simone Hochreiter wrote in to remind me this needed to be included. According to The International Thesaurus of Quotations, ed. Rhoda Thomas Tripp, p. 76, no. 3 (1970) he is referring to "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Chinese proverb.

Chapter 8:

  • "Casper the friendly ghost." - Simone, who lives in Germany, asked about this one. In case you are also only familiar with the 1995 movie let me give a little background. The little guy first appeared in a 1945 animated movie from Paramount called The Friendly Ghost. It was a sentimental tale of a young ghost who didn't want to scare anyone and was dismayed that adults ran away screaming in terror, although he could often bond with children. Many sequels were made, the last one in 1959. A series of comic books started in 1949 (where he was first given his name), and in 1963 there began a series of made-for-TV cartoons. BTW: The above information is the distillation of an article I found at
  • "Well, a fine mess you got us into this time, Ollie" - This is another one I forgot to list because it seemed too familiar. Dennis Tallett wrote in to note:

"A favorite line from movie comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Hardy with genteel pomposity would turn to Stan Laurel and say, blamingly, 'Here's another fine mess you've got me into.'"

  • Hisao Tomihari provided a more correct transcription: "The correct line that Stan uttered to Ollie is "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into."
  • "Louie, Louie." - Iain Campbell got me started on research this one. Louie Louie was written by Richard Berry. As recorded by the Kingsmen the Lyrics were almost unintelligible, leading many people to think it was a filthy song. Actually it's just a sailor talking to a bartender about the girl he left at home.

Chapter 10:

Chapter 14:

  • "The music of the spheres." - Iain pointed out this one: "A Pythagorean concept, I think, so very abstract and suitable for intellectuals with necks less than 18 inches." And one I will not try to explain here. I found a good overview at this site:
  • "Defenestration." - As my Webster's Dictionary puts it "n. the act of throwing a person or thing out of a window [DE + L fenestra, window]". I simply love the number of concepts that there is a word for. Of course we all remember the The Defenestration of Prague in 1618 which touched off the Thirty Years War. Members of the Bohemian nobility, already in more or less open revolt against the Emperor, threw two Imperial governors out a castle window. They actually picked a rather low window and the men survived, but the Emperor was none too pleased.

Chapter 15:

  • "The sweet science." - One the true classics of boxing literature. A.J. Liebling, The Sweet Science. New York, Viking Press, 1956.
  • "More notches on the weapon then John Wesley Hardin." - Hardin was a gunfighter in the old west. He had over thirty notches on his gun, and one source I found put his total kills at 44. He always maintained that he never killed anyone who did not need killing, although it is said that he shot one man just for snoring.

Chapter 16:

  • "But who said 'therefore, it's over?'" - The quote is from A Essay Concerning the true original, extent, and end of Civil Government by John Locke, 1690.
  • "I could raise one eyebrow, like Brian Donlevy, but I didn't very often because most people didn't know who Brian Donlevy was." - Arthur Martin writes: "He was a movie actor for over thirty years in westerns, and action films. He was especially good at playing villains and politicians."

Chapter 17:

  • "Tough but oh so gentle." - See Oft Quoted
  • "Day at a time." - Alcoholics Anonymous stresses that sobriety is best taken one day at a time, and this phrase can be a source of strength. Spenser is implying that monogamy can also be a struggle.
  • "Because my heart is pure." - See Oft Quoted and Poetry (Sir Galahad)
  • "Sort of pure." - This reminds me of a line from Looking for Rachael Wallace where Iain Campbell noted of "hardly ever" "Wouldn't you perhaps agree that this is a direct reference to H.M.S. Pinafore, Gilbert and Sullivan, the Captain's song, in which he claims that he is 'never, ever sick at sea' but when challenged by the jolly tars, amends that to: 'Well, hardly ever.'" For that reference see Lyrics.
  • "The way she wears her hat. The way she sips her tea." - From the song They Can't Take That Away from Me by George and Ira Girshwin for the 1936 movie Shall we Dance. See Lyrics

Chapter 19:

  • "floating like a couple of butterflies and pretending to sting like a couple of bees." - A take on Muhammad Ali's famous statement. See Oft Quoted.
  • "Reading Othello and we reading Invisible Man." - Appropriate for a group of Afro-American students. William Shakespeare's play concerned a Moorish king, while Invisible Man (1952) by Ralph Waldo Ellison [1914-1994] pointed out a shameful aspect of American culture: "I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, flesh and bone, fiber and liquids -- and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination -- indeed, everything and anything except me."

Chapter 20:

  • "He was treating Hawk as a means not an end." - Iain Campbell points out that he was treating him immorally. "This is Kantian: The Formula of the End itself: 'Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.'"
  • "I cut off a small bite of the linguiça I had substituted for chorizo." - Arthur Martin wrote in to note that "Linguiça and chorizo are Portuguese sausages, mild and hot respectively."
  • "It's like suddenly discovering Beowulf's childhood." - Susan is referring to Hawk, and I will not follow up that line of reasoning, but Simone Hochreiter wrote to say that: "(Beowulf is) an old English epos; it's the oldest and the only one complete of the old-germanic epic poems. Its recent form is probably from the 10th century with roots in the 8th century AD. It seems certain that the author was a learned monk who took cues from old Greek sagas like Aeneid and mixed it with Christian topics." See And concerning Beowulf's childhood, Dennis Tallett adds: "Beowulf was slack, lazy, and rather worthless as a young person which was before he girded his loins, banished the trolls and ripped off the monster Grendel's arm."

Chapter 21:

  • "Brendan Cooney" - Dennis Tallett writes: "Student activist and part of the anti-sweatshop group founded in 1997 at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio." Interestingly, this was the name of a campus cop at Pemberton College in chapter 6 of Small Vices.
  • "The young are very different than we are, I said to myself. Yes, I responded, they have more time." - A clever paraphrase of a famous discussion about the rich, last used in A Catskill Eagle: "Do you remember what somebody said about rich people? That they are different?" - paraphrased from F. Scott Fitzgerald. "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful." - The Rich Boy [1926]. To which Ernest Hemingway mockingly replied, in his story The Snows of Kilimanjaro, "Yes, they have more money."

Chapter 22:

""I was misinformed." - Hisao Tomihari pointed out this Casablanca reference. See Oft Quoted

Chapter 23:

  • Simone prompted the next two quotes, which I overlooked.
  • "Hard is in the eye of the beholder." - A variation of "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." The general feeling goes back a long time.
  • Theocritus, 3BC: "In the eyes of love that which is not beautiful often seems beautiful"
  • Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (1847) "Most true is it that beauty is in the eye of the gazer."
  • Booth Tarkington, The Magnificent Ambersons (1918)"You mean beauty's in the eye of the beholder"
  • Virtue is its own reward." - I ran this one by Bartlett's Familiar Quotations: Virtue is her own reward.—John Dryden: Tyrannic Love, act Virtue is to herself the best reward.—Henry More: Cupid’s Conflict. Virtue is its own reward.—Matthew Prior: Imitations of Horace, book iii. ode 2. John Gay: Epistle to Methuen. Home: Douglas, act iii. sc. 1. Virtue was sufficient of herself for happiness.—Diogenes Laertius: Plato, xlii. Ipsa quidem virtus sibimet pulcherrima merces (Virtue herself is her own fairest reward).—Silius Italicus (25?–99): Punica, lib. xiii. line 663.

Chapter 25:

  • "I thought maybe you had told her what a Roscoe I was in bed." - Iain Campbell points that since a roscoe is hard-boiled slang for a gun the sexual meaning is obvious. BTW there is a list I found with a whole collection of such slang at Other useful gun names include Bean-shooter, Gat, Heat, Heater, and Rod.
  • "She'll be sleeping with the fishes." - Arthur Martin notes the "Susan has apparently seen 'The Godfather' (1972). She likes the phrase and uses it later in the book." This was last used in Pastime, ch. 28.

Chapter 27:

"Tommy Harmon." - Tom Harmon was one of the countries greatest college football stars when he played for the University of Michigan Wolverines from 1938-1940. He is a member of the Michigan and National Football Hall of Fame and was Michigan's first Heisman Trophy Winner.
  • "Hail to the Victor." - The Wolverines' fight song is actually entitled The Victors. See Lyrics

Chapter 28:

  • "The white person's burden." - Iain Campbell notes "Spenser rephrases Kipling in politically correct language. Citation: Kipling, Rudyard. 'The White Man's Burden.' McClure's Magazine 12 (Feb. 1899)." See Poetry

Chapter 29:

  • "Gayer than laughter, younger than springtime." - From the song Younger than Springtime, words by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstien II. It's in the musical South Pacific, which was based on the works of James Michener. See Lyrics

Chapter 30:

  • Hedy lamarr - 1940

    Hedy Lamarr

    "Hedy Lamarr." - Arthur Martin points out: "If KC Roth looks like Hedy, then she is indeed beautiful, Lamarr was probably best known for her role in C.B. Demille's "Samson and Delilah (1950)."

Chapter 33:

  • "I've been everywhere before." - Spoken in Spenser's flawless Humphrey Bogart imitation. I remember it distinctly, but damned if I can remember which movie. He last used the line many years ago in A Savage Place.
  • "He was probably a very principled man, too. So were they all, all principled men." Bill Fiorilli notes: "...this is an obvious reference to the honorable men phrase in the famous 'Friends, Romans, Countrymen" speech in 'Julius Caesar' (Act 3, scene 2)"
"For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men"

Chapter 34:

  • "If after repeated efforts you don't succeed, quit." - Thanks to Hisao Tomihari for finding this nod to the W.E. Hickson poem Try and Try Again. See Oft Quoted

Chapter 36:

  • "My strength is as the strength of ten" - See Oft Quoted and Poetry (Sir Galahad)

Chapter 37:

  • "The long corridors of time past." - Iain Campbell points out: A distant cousin, perhaps of Longfellow's: "The bards sublime/Whose distant footsteps echo/Through the corridors of Time" from The Day is Done." Then again he may have been referring to the title of Marcel Proust's several-million-page work "A la recherche du temps perdu," often translated as Remembrance of Times Past.

Chapter 39:

  • "Be about a hundred million white guys in this country, I end up with you." - Hisao Tomihari caught this reference to Casablanca. See Oft Quoted

Chapter 40:

  • Croix
    "Croix de Guerre" - Simone reminds me that this was a French medal, the "War Cross." During World War I, the Croix de Guerre was awarded for bravery to military personnel mentioned in dispatches. Recipients of the Légion d'Honneur and Médaille Militaire were automatically entitled to the Croix de Guerre. For subsequent acts of bravery, the recipient was awarded a palm leaf for Army citations, a gold star for Corps citations, a silver star for Division citations or a bronze star for Brigade and Regimental citations. Iain Campbell reminds us that Hawk has been in the French Foreign Legion.

Chapter 41:

  • "Leaped a tall building in a single bound." - Yes, the big red "S" on his chest can stand for either Spenser or Superman.

Chapter 42:

  • "Be my guess that they exchanging BJ's." - Iain Campbell once again reminded me that these books (and this web site) reach an international audience and it is my duty to explain English slang to those without a full command of the language. BJ is short for "Blow Job," an expression that refers to performing oral sex on a man. A curious phrase, in that it does not involve blowing onto or into the penis. For our Czech readers it's "kour^it ptáka"; in German it's "jemandem einen blasen" but for a formal exploration of the subject one could visit

Chapter 43:

  • "Someone once remarked - I don't recall who - that the reason academic conflicts are so vicious is that the stakes are so small." - Simone writes in to note that it was Henry Kissinger, former American Secretary of State.
  • "White woman's burden." - See chapter 28.

Chapter 45:

  • "I refute it thus." - Simone pointed me to this one. It is, as Spenser said, Samuel Johnson, as related in Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. by James Boswell: "After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it -- 'I refute it thus.'" Of course that does not refute it at all, Berkeley would have pointed out that Johnson has merely proved that he thinks he has kicked a stone. Or some such drivel; I consider it a profound waste of time. BTW the sophistry Bishop Berkeley was expounding on was the classic "If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound." See Oft Quoted

Chapter 50:

  • "But I think that there's something lurking behind the arras." - Shakespeare of course, as Susan mentions, but Simone Hochreiter points out: "Susan is referring to Hamlet, where in Act 3, Scene 4 Polonius is lurking behind an arras to spy on Hamlet and his mother and is killed by Hamlet (who thought his stepfather was behind the arras and acted as a 'madman,' shouting 'How now! A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!')"
  • "You must prepare for the enemy's capability, rather than his intentions." - Susan has learned this often used phrase from Spenser. It's from On War by Clausewitz. See Oft Quoted.

Chapter 51:

  • "Be like J. Edgar Hoover running around in a dress." - There are rumors that the late head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, who had his agents persecute homosexuals, was a closet transvestite. True or not, Hawk said it best: "whatever floats your boat."

Chapter 52:

  • "If this be treason...let us make the most of it." - Patrick Henry, in a speech in the Virginia Convention of 1765. He had spoken out against the Stamp Act, and someone shouted out that what he talking about was treason. He replied "If this be treason, make the most of it."
  • "Their sound like the rhythm of music that wasn't playing." - This seems to owe something to Ode on A Grecian Urn (see Poetry) but I'm not sure.

Chapter 53:

  • "The game's afoot." - Iain Campbell notes that this is from Shakespeare's Henry V, iii.1. And interestingly it was Hawk quoting the Bard. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also gave the line to Sherlock Holmes a few times.

Chapter 54:

  • "as if I was Scheherazade." - The master story-telling lady from The Thousand and One Nights and One Night (often called The Thousand and One Arabian Nights.) King Shahryar found his wife in bed with a slave and slew them both. To be sure he would not be betrayed again he would have a new young virgin brought to him every night, and in the morning have her killed. Scheherazade always stopped in the middle of a story or with promises of a better one the next night as morning came, and the king had to let her live just one more day. I have a four volume set in my collection and it's marvelous reading, but the poetry is lost in the translation. It makes me want to learn Arabic.
  • "Waltzed to the music of time." - He may be referring to a painting by Nicolas Poussin called The Dance to the Music of Time (c.1640) that depicts "the Four Seasons dancing to the music of Father Time." Take a look at it here.

Chapter 57:

  • "Flowers on a dark wet field" - Susan Rushton wrote in to say that she recognized it:
  • "A poet whose name is right here at the tip of my brain wrote a two-line poem called In A Station Of the Metro: 'The apparition of these faces in a crowd;/Petals on a wet black bough.'" Right you are, Susan. Armed with that fact I found it was Ezra Pound who wrote it in April, 1913. "The smile of promise which could easily launch a thousand ships." - Twice in one book, no less. See Oft Quoted.

Meanwhile, in the Spenser UniverseEdit

Well, we finally get some background info on Hawk. As a homeless teenager making a living as a mugger, Hawk would sometimes go into a neighborhood gym to use the bathroom. He would hang around and work out on the punching bags until he got pretty good at it. Bobby Nevins saw him and offered to teach him how to box. He also gave Hawk a place to live, taught him a lot of things he should know about life, and started him on the road to getting an education. Hawk would not be the man he is today if it hadn't been for Bobby, and when he gets a chance to help the man's son he is only too happy to do so, and ask his friend Spenser to also help.

Favorite LinesEdit

Chapter 1: Multitasking is a wonderful thing

"Hawk appeared to be listening to the faintly audible ball game. And he was. If asked he could give you the score and recap the last innings. He would also be able to tell you everything I said or Nevins said and how we looked when we said it."

Chapter 2: The Martha Stewart of Gumshoes

"Susan periodically undertook to make my office more homelike, and one of her most successful attempts was the relatively recent introduction of a coffeemaker, coffee canisters, and some color coordinated mugs. Milk for the coffee then required a small refrigerator, in which I could also keep beer in case of an emergency. The refrigerator, of course, matched the mugs and the canisters and the sugar bowl and milk pitcher. The coffee filters and flatware were in a little drawer in the cabinet that I had built under her direction to hold the refrigerator. Hawk always smiled when he looked at it. Which he was doing now as he made us some coffee.
'Surprised Susan doesn't have you color-coordinating your ammunition,' Hawk said.
'Well, she does sort of like the .357,' I said, 'because she likes how the lead nose of the bullets contrasts with the stainless steel cylinder.'"

Chapter 2: And that enigmatic smile might be the last thing you'll ever see

"Hawk nodded and smiled. When he smiled he looked like a large black Mona Lisa, if Mona had shaved her head...and had a nineteen-inch bicep...and a 29-inch waist...and very little conscience."

Chapter 4: Please bear down, you are making multiple copies

"'Why'd he do a Brody?' Belson grinned. 'Left a note on his computer. It said, I believe, 'I can't go on. There's someone who will understand why."'
'What kind of suicide note is that?' I said.
'What, is there some kind of form note?' Belson said. 'Pick it up at the stationary store? Fill in the blanks?'"

Chapter 4: Isn't trust a wonderful thing?

"'We were told that he was despondent over the end of a love affair.'
'With whom?'
'That's confidential information,' Belson said.
'Who told you?'
'Also confidential,' Belson said.
He reached into the left-hand file drawer of his desk and ruffled some folders and took one out and put it on his desk.
'That's why we keep all the information right here in this folder marked confidential. See right there on the front: Con-fid-fucking-dential.'
He put the blue file folder on his desk, and squared it neatly in the center of the green blotter.
'I'm going down the hall to the can,' Belson said. 'Be about ten minutes. I don't want you poking around in this confidential folder on the Lamont case while I'm gone. I particularly don't want you using that photocopier beside the water cooler.'
'You can count on me, Sergeant.'"

Chapter 5: The march of the seasons

"At two in the afternoon the temperature was in the eighties, the sun was bright, and there was only a very soft breeze. A perfect midsummer day except that it was March 29."

Chapter 6: How thugs feed their forest friends...

"He was looking at a squirrel who kept skittering closer to us, and rearing up and not getting anything to eat and looking as outraged as squirrels get to look.
'You know Amir?' I said.
'Yeah, I do,' Hawk said.
'Tell me about him,' I said.
A man in an oversized double-breasted suit walked by eating peanuts from a bag.
'Gimme one of your peanuts, please,' Hawk said.
The man in the big suit looked flustered and said 'sure' and held out the bag to Hawk. Hawk took a peanut out and said, 'Thank you.' Big suit smiled uncomfortably and walked on. Hawk gave the peanut to the squirrel..."

Chapter 14: Spenser: the humble gumshoe

"Professors Abdullah and Temple had alleged that Lamont had been having a love affair with Robinson Nevins. Though not to me. I wondered why they were so reluctant to speak to me. Academics, being academics, attached great importance to abstraction, and there may have been reasons that had to do with listening long to the music of the spheres, reasons a mind as pedestrian as mine would not be able to understand."

Chapter 19: Big enough to carry his money to the bank

"'You can use my office, you want,' Henry said. 'I got to go suck around the customers.'
'You too teeny to run a health club,' Hawk said. 'The same people come here year after year, since the place stopped being a dump. Nobody lose weight. Nobody put on muscle. Everybody look just like they did when they signed up to get in shape.'
'One difference,' Henry said. 'They are a little poorer, and I am a lot richer.'
Hawk grinned.
'Maybe you ain't too teeny after all.'"

Chapter 23: Right, that's the point she was trying to make

"'You and I are not going to have sex,' I said. 'I don't like that much better than you do, but it's a fact.'
She reached out and began to rub my thigh. I slapped her hand. The action was involuntary, but effective. She pulled her hand away and burst into tears. I went around my desk feeling completely idiotic and sat down and breathed as quietly as I could. She cried for a little while and rubbed her hand where I'd slapped it.
'You hit me,' she said.
'Not very hard,' I said.
'It was too hard,' she said.
'Hard is in the eye of the beholder, I guess,' I said, and wished I hadn't said it quite that way."

Chapter 24: When E. F. Spenser talks...people listen

"Betty hung up the phone. When she saw me she pointed me out to a couple of vigorous-looking young men who were probably good at squash.
'That's him,' she said. 'Don't let him get away.'
I didn't feel like instructing them in the difference between scuffling and squash, so I smiled at them courteously and opened my coat so they could see that I was wearing a gun.
'Let him get away,' I said.
Which they did."

Chapter 25: Another victory for the power of sweet reason

"'How did your talk go with Louis Vincent? Did he admit it?'
'Not exactly.'
'Did he seem remorseful?' Susan said.
'I think by the end of the discussion he felt some remorse.'
'Does this remorse have any connection with the bruised knuckles on your right hand?'
'It was a talking point,' I said.

Chapter 33: So there is a reason for it to exist? I always wondered...

"Pearl and I watched the sight and sounds of Cambridge pass by the car. Pearl reacted only to other dogs, and then with hostility, otherwise she rested her head placidly in the backseat and stared.
'Cambridge was placed here,' I said, 'across the river from Boston to provide comic relief.'"

Chapter 34: I'm guessing Spenser doesn't own the special Director's cut of Private Parts

"Spending the night sitting in a chair by KC Roth's bedside was about as appealing as a Howard Stern film festival. I took in a lot of air through my nose and let it out the same way. Dr. Tripp and the black nurse and KC all stared at me with various degrees of male-oriented hostility.
'Sure,' I said. 'Be glad to.'"

Chapter 39: Irony R Us

"'Be about a hundred million white guys in this country,' Hawk said as the electricity crackled in the sky. 'I ended up with you.'
'Talk about luck,' I said."

Chapter 44: Could you guys just answer the damned question?

"'Maybe these guys know,' Hawk said.
'You guys know where Beecham, Maine, is?' I said.
They looked like Secret Service men or IBM executives. They were all in dark suits and white shirts. They all wore ties. They all had short hair. They were all of northern European descent. When everyone was in place the suit closest to the door pushed it shut.
One of the two men in front of my desk said, 'Spenser?'
'Yes,' I said. 'Is it on the coast?'
'Is what on the coast?'
Horn rims shook his head in dismissive annoyance.
'You've been put on notice,' he said. 'As of this morning at three thirty-five.'
I looked at Hawk.
'Did you take back those library books like I told you?' I said.
Hawk was leaning against my filing cabinet as if he might fall asleep. He smiled softly.
'Can't be librarians,' Hawk said. 'Librarians would know where Beecham is.'

Chapter 46: Which Hall of Fame is this exactly?

"'Do you think we can get away soon, just the two of us, somewhere?'
'Yes,' I said. 'A mystery ride?'
'I'd love that,' Susan said.
'I'll put something together for us.'
'I don't want to tour the new ballpark in Cleveland,' Susan said.
'And you don't want to go to Cooperstown,' I said, 'and visit the Hall of Fame.'
'That still leaves a lot of options for us,' Susan said.
'I guess so,' I said. 'I wonder is KC Roth would like to see the Hall of Fame.'
'She's probably in it,' Susan said. 'They probably retired her diaphragm.'"

Chapter 49: If the racists have an air force, at least he'll be ready

"'We going to have to do something about these guys,' Hawk said.
I was driving as fast as the Buxton Road would let me back toward Beecham. Hawk had the cylinder of his .44 open and was feeding in two fresh rounds that looked about the size of surface to air missiles.
'I'll bet they're back there saying the same thing,' I said.

Chapter 51: If this be treason, can you wear that strapless number?

"'On the other hand,' I said, 'you've read the literature. For the leader of this movement to be having an affair with a gay black militant is not just miscegenation, for chrissake, it's treason.'
'You're right,' Hawk said. 'Couldn't happen. Be like J. Edgar Hoover running around in a dress.'
'Exactly,' I said. 'Impossible.'"


  • Chapter 2: Coffee at the office that Hawk made. "Ancestors were house's in the genes."
  • Chapter 15: Coffee at the office.
  • Chapter 18: Coffee and donuts at the office.
  • Chapter 20: Brunch at Susan's. Huevos rancheros with mild green chilis, linguica instead of choizo.
  • Chapter 25: Coffee and donuts at a Dunkin Donuts in Saugus.
  • Chapter 32: Ham sandwich on light rye with dark mustard at home.
  • Chapter 36: Coffee and a couple of donuts on his way to Susan's house to get some sleep.
  • Chapter 37: Coffee and corn bread at the office with Hawk and Bobby Nevins.
  • Chapter 38: Black beans, garlic, sherry, and cilantro with linguine at home.
  • Chapter 39: Coffee at the office.
  • Chapter 43: Half decaf, half real coffee at the faculty cafeteria with Robinson.
  • Chapter 46: Coffee at the office. At least three cups. Key Lime cookies and decaf when Susan drops by.
  • Chapter 47: Lobster salad at Legal Seafood with KC.
  • Chapter 50: Steak at the Sanibel Steak House.
  • Chapter 55: Donuts at the office with Pearl.
  • Chapter 57: Susan brings a late breakfast to the office. Egg salad on light rye, coffee, and some adorable little key lime cookies.


  • Chapter 16: A beer at Susan's.
  • Chapter 19: New Amsterdam Black and Tan from Henry's office fridge.
  • Chapter 29: Beer at the Limerick with Lee Farrell.
  • Chapter 31: Draught beer in a bar across from the Fleet Center with Hawk.
  • Chapter 32: Sam Adams White Ale with a sandwich at home.
  • Chapter 33: Draught beer at the Casablanca while talking to Lillian.
  • Chapter 36: A scotch and soda at Susan's.
  • Chapter 38: Scotch and soda at home while cooking.
  • Chapter 41: Brooklyn Lager on draught at a gay bar in the South End talking with Walt.
  • Chapter 50: Martinis with dinner at the Sanibel Steak House, then red wine.
  • Chapter 51: Beer in Henry's office after a workout to restock the electrolytes.
  • Chapter 53: Beer in the Ritz cafe with Susan.


  • Spenser seems proud of himself for thinking up the idea of comparing Hawk to Mantan Moreland. It was Hawk who introduced it in A Catskill Eagle.
  • I got a great letter from a fellow fan: "I just had to tell this to someone, and the B&B owner seemed like the right person. From Hush Money: 'Do you know that we are turning out English Ph.Ds who have never read Milton?' By coincidence, I have a Ph.D in English and I have never read Milton. By itself, that's not so interesting, I know ... until I add that one chapter of my dissertation which earned me my Ph.D was on Robert B. Parker."
  • Note that it was Robinson Nevins in chapter 1 who was shocked by this breakdown in modern education. I would like to thank Dr. Rubio for sharing with us. Irony is a beautiful thing.
  • Donut
    In Chapter 25 Spenser mentions the little handle on his donut. It's a protuberance that Dunkin' Donuts forms on their classic plain variety, in theory to give you something to hold onto while you dip it in your coffee. I always thought it was a local New England thing, and indeed the first store opened in Quincy MA in 1950, but a visit to their web site at shows 5000 shops in the US and outlets in 40 countries. (Note: This signature "handle donut," which requires cutting by hand, was discontinued in 2003, when Dunkin' Donuts switched to machine cutting their donuts.)
  • Unfortunately the above doesn't help frequent contributor HM2 Thomas P. Lorenc, USN, a local native currently posted in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Can you believe that there is not a single donut shop in the area? I can't walk a quarter mile in any direction without encountering one so I feel his pain. "Man does not live by bread alone (Deuteronomy 8:3)," but donuts are another matter entirely. Can we get up a campaign to have a franchise opened down there to help this guy out?
Once again Parker has deviated from his usual sentence structure of "he/she said." I've been making a list, and I put it on a page I call You Don't Say
  • I smell a cigarette: Iain Campbell notes that this is not the first time Spenser has been saved from ambush by smelling cigarette smoke. In chapter 49 he and Hawk know the Last Stand goons are waiting at the car. In chapter 22 of Walking Shadow it was the Death Dragons waiting in his apartment. See Oft Quoted under "the nose knows."
  • I smell a catch phrase: This is the second book in a row where RBP refers to unseasonable weather in a similar manner. In Sudden Mischief he wrote: "It was a lovely December day, brisk and sunny. Unfortunately it was the first week in April." In chapter five of this book it was "a perfect midsummer day except that it was March 29."
  • I Smell another Catch Phrase: Actually, Gerald So pointed out this one. In Chapter 22 of Thin Air Spenser says to Woody Pontevecchio "and you call me Spense again I will kick your ass around Westwood like a beach ball." Compare it to Chapter 8 here where Hawk tells Amir Abdullah "You refer to me as 'him' again and I will slap your skinny ass around this office like a handball."
  • The Catch Phrases continue to build up: Notice the quote from ch. 4 in Favorite Lines above where Belson leaves a file on his desk and says "I'm going down the hall to the can. 'Be about ten minutes. I don't want you poking around in this confidential folder on the Lamont case while I'm gone." He's been using that one quite often recently. See Police Business
  • Elsewhere in Boston, somewhere, Sunny Randall is probably navigating her first case in Family Honor.
  • Show me the money: This one is even better than usual. He gets to work on two cases at the same time and not get paid for either.
  • Actually, it's worse than that: Spenser has Quirk, I have Bruce Knight. When not busy keeping New Jersey safe for law abiding folk he helps keep this site honest: "Not only is Spenser on two pro bono cases at the same time, but in the middle of it, he's doing the paperwork from a third case where a client stiffed him. (Chapter 39 - Bob)... he mentions a missing-person case where he had to use a helicopter, and didn't get paid even though he found the missing person; the chopper pilot decided not to bill Spenser for the air time. Which, come to think of it, is probably pretty expensive, considering the cost of aviation fuel and all. So it wasn't just a two-fer, it was a hat trick of cases with no money."

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