Series Spenser
Publisher G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date 2001
Media type hardcover
ISBN 0-399-14710-1
Preceded by Hugger Mugger
Followed by Widow's Walk

Cover InformationEdit

"for Joan: somewhere around the twelfth of never." (see annotation below)

From the dust jacket of the hard cover edition:

Boston P.E. Spenser returns--heading west to the rich man's haven of Potshot, Arizona, a former mining town reborn as a paradise for Los Angeles millionaires looking for a place to escape the pressures of their high-flying lifestyles. Potshot overcame its rough reputation as a rendezvous for old time mountain men who lived off the land, thanks to a healthy infusion of new blood and even newer money. But when this western idyll is threatened by a local gang--a twenty-first-century posse of desert rats, misfits, drunks, and scavengers--the local police seem powerless. Led by a charismatic individual known only as The Preacher, this motley band of thieves selectively exploits the town, nurturing it as a source of wealth while systematically robbing the residents blind.

Enter Spenser, who has been hired by the comely Mary Lou Buckman to investigate the murder of her husband. The Buckmans, a pair lf L.A. transplants, moved to Potshot and started a modest outdoor tour service. It is Mary Lou's belief that when her husband refused to pay The Preacher and his men protection money, he was killed. Without any witnesses, Spenser has little to go on, and it's clear the local police chief won't be doing much to help. Calling on his own cadre of tried-and-true cohorts, including Vinnie Morris, Bobby Horse, Chollo, Bernard J. Fortunato, Tedy Sapp, and the redoubtable Hawk, Spenser must find a way to beat the gang at their own dangerous game.

Additional InfoEdit

The book is a loving homage to the classic 1960 western The Magnificent Seven (which was adapted from Akira Kurosawa's film The Seven Samurai.) If you haven't seen it, it's about a man hired by a small village to take on a gang of thirty or forty bandits who have been stealing their precious resources and riding away into the hills. He proceeds to round up six other gunmen and the rest is cinematic history. Let me quote the blurb on the videotape box:

"Led by a menacing, gold-toothed desperado, an army of bandits terrorize a small Mexican farming village. Desperately needing protection, the farmers offer their last bit of money to a group of idle gunfighters. The men accept the job--not for the cash, but for a chance to return to the action! Hang on to your hat as the seven riders blaze through a war against overwhelming odd--out-blasting, outwitting, and out-toughing anyone that stands in their path."

BTW: If you weren't sure exactly where Yul Brenner's gun slinging robot character in Westworld came from, it's this one.

Recurring CharactersEdit

Quite a long list here. In order of appearance:

  • Lieutenant Mark Samuelson of the Los Angeles Police Force (A Savage Place and Stardust) refers Mary Lou to Spenser and provides some support along the way.
  • Susan, of course. The center will, indeed, hold.
  • Pearl, the Wonder Dog, now growing quite old. More on this subject later.
  • Lee Farrell is mentioned as being a baby-sitter for Pearl while Susan travels with her honey-bunny.
  • Henry Cimoli (whose fitness center seems more upscale every day,) "bursting in a small way out of his suit."
  • Hawk.
  • Gino Fish, who Spenser respectfully asks if he can borrow Vinnie Morris.
  • Vinnie Morris, one of the fastest men with a gun we have encountered.
  • Tedy Sapp, who was introduced in Hugger Mugger. Large, well muscled, and comfortably gay, he has a long term relationship with his significant other:
  • Ben, an ophthalmologist and Tedy's significant other. Mentioned but not seen.

Bernard J. Fortunato, the "compact" private eye last seen in Chance who has a bit of a chip on his less-than-average-height shoulder.

  • Vincent Del Rio, (Stardust, Thin Air) a self-described "venture capitalist."
  • Bobby Horse, the great Kiowa scout. Until this book he had sort of been wallpaper behind Del Rio.
  • Chollo, who has worked with the crazy Anglo before.
  • Ives, of the three letter agency.
  • Frank Belson left a message inviting Spenser and Susan over to dinner with him and Lisa.
  • Mei Ling (Walking Shadow, Chance) left a message asking to use Spenser as a job reference.
  • Captain Healy of the Mass. State police vouches for him with Cawley Dark.

Unanswered QuestionsEdit

Parker walked a very fine line here and the boundary is very flexible. None of the characters ever noticed that they were following elements of the plot of the above mentioned movie, yet one of the best scenes was when Chollo reversed it as a Mexican telling an Anglo "We deal in lead, friend" originally spoken by Steve McQueen to Eli Wallach as the bandit leader.

Literary References, or "The Annotated Gumshoe"Edit

Significance of the title: According to the Mirriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary: "Potshot. Etymology: from the notion that such a shot is unsportsmanlike and worthy only of one whose object is to fill the cooking pot (Date: 1858) 1: a shot taken from ambush or at a random or easy target

Significance of the dedication "The twelfth of never" - see Oft Quoted and Lyrics

Chapter 1:

  • "Back out of all this now too much for us." - The first line of Directive by Robert Frost, 1942. See Poetry. It advises its readers to get lost to find themselves.

Chapter 2:

  • "Mad dogs and Englishmen" - are the only ones crazy enough to go out in the midday sun. Or so says the song written by Noel Coward in 1926 while he was in Hawaii recovering from a nervous breakdown. He included it in his smash hit London revue Words and Music (1932). See Lyrics

Chapter 2:

  • "Moondog, Dappa, names like that."- The first name refers to Louis Hardin, a blind musician who hung around with the jazz greats in New York in the '40s and '50s. He started using the pen-name "Moondog" in 1947 in honor of a dog he had in Hurley, Missouri, who used to howl at the moon more than any dog he knew of. An interesting character, he was fond of walking around dressed as a Viking. Born in 1916, he released his last album in 1997 and died in 1999.
  • BTW: That was also the inspiration for "Moondoggie," the name Gidget (Frances Lawrence) called her boyfriend (Jeffrey Matthews) in a series of beach/bikini movies made in the early '60s. She was portrayed by Sandra Dee, Deborah Walley, Cindy Carrol and others; James Darren was Jeff in most of them. The mid 60's TV series starring Sally Fields is another matter entirely. It was all based on the 1957 novel written by Frederick Kohner about his daughter Kathy, which has recently been re-issued.
  • Dappa is a little more obscure. Chief Harold Dappa Biriye was one of the leaders in the Nigerian liberation effort going back to the '40s, but I don't know if that is the source.

Chapter 4:

  • "Cherchez la femme." - Basically, keep an eye on the woman. See Oft Quoted. Used again in chapters 8 and 9.

Chapter 5:

  • "The farmers in the Dell." - It was only a matter of time before Spenser got around to this joke. The Farmer in the Dell is an old nursery song and part of a children's game.

Chapter 6:

  • "Any idiot in a storm." - A variation on the old saying "any port in a storm." meaning any safe harbor will do for protection when needed. Or any sweet fortified wine like that originally made in Oporta, Portugal as far as many people are concerned.

Chapter 7:

  • "Looked like hellmouth in an Elizabethan play." - I'm still working on this one. Consultant Iain Campbell wrote to say: "I went to, where the The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907­21). Volume V. The Drama to 1642, Part One is quoted thus: 'or in the matter-of-fact descriptions of "properties" such as Hell-mouth, the head of a whale with jaws worked by 2 men, out of which devil boys ran.'" Well, it's a start.
  • Bierstadt yosemite valley

    "Looking Up the Yosemite Valley" - Bierstadt

    "Like a Bierstadt painting." - A landscape artist of the Hudson River school, he spent the mid 1800's in the American west depicting the vast grandeur of this almost-undiscovered country.
  • "I preach self-reliance." "You and Emerson." - In 1841 Ralph Waldo Emerson published Self-Reliance, an essay about the resistance of pressures to conform to society. It includes the line "Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist." Spenser no doubt keeps a copy under his pillow.
  • (Emerson) "One of the Concord Transcendentalists." - Emerson, Thoreau, Frost; the usual suspects. They shared "the belief that everybody was a separate individuality and that collective enterprises could do nothing but weaken the self" or some such nonsense. I have always regarded Philosophy as "the sound of one hand clapping a sex organ" so excuse me if I let someone else follow up on this.

Chapter 8:

  • "Let the good times roll." - Last referenced in Paper Doll Ch. 38. The Cars borrowed the title, but the original was recorded by Louis Jordan and his band the Tympany Five back in 1946. Jumpin' and jivin', and featuring Jordan's snarling sax, these guys rocked. It was written by Fleecie Moore and Sam Theard. See Lyrics

Chapter 10:

  • "Feeling like Henry Fonda in My Darling Clementine." - Yep, foot on the post, tipping back the chair on the porch, he is in that position when Clementine Carter gets off the stage and enters the plot. Fonda played Wyatt Earp in this heavily fictionalized version of events leading up to the O.K. Corral dustup.

Chapter 13:

Chapter 16:

  • "Home from the hills is the hunter." - It's the last line of Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson. See Poetry.
  • "The grave's a fine and private place/but none I think do there embrace." - Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) in the poem To his Coy Mistress. Check it out on the Poetry page.

Chapter 19:

  • "Death is the mother of beauty." - Referring to Sunday Morning by Wallace Stevens. See Oft Quoted and Poetry.

Chapter 20:

  • "Spuds McKenzie" - See Oft Quoted
  • "He only has eyes for me." - The song I Only Have Eyes for You (words: Al Dubin, music: Harry Warren) was written for the 1934 movie Dames and was originally sung by Dick Powell. The Flamingos recorded it in 1959 and their version reached #11 on the Top 40 charts. Tedy's life partner Ben is, of course, an Ophthalmologist. See Lyrics

Chapter 24:

  • "The principal looked like a short John Thompson, black, about six-foot-five, and heavy.." - John Thompson was the coach of the Georgetown University Hoyas for twenty-seven years, leading the team to the NCAA tournament 20 times. He's a rather big guy, six feet ten inches tall and 300 pounds.
  • "Luck is the residue of design." - A quote usually attributed to Branch Rickey, one of the pioneers of baseball. He went from catcher to well respected manager and way back in 1919 came up with the farm system as we know it today. He is best known for breaking the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Chapter 25:

  • "Stirred, not shaken." - Nancy is making reference to the James Bond of the movie series, which are as much an alternate universe to the books as "Spenser: For Hire" and the A&E movies are to the Parker novels. The argument about whether shaking "bruises" the Gin is far above my horizon; I keep my Scotch in the freezer so it doesn't need ice cubes. (The notion that gin can be 'bruised' is a myth. Controlled, double blind experiments demonstrate that people can't actually taste a difference. See an analysis here. )

Chapter 26:

  • "The world is too much with us lately."- William Wordsworth. The poem was first printed in 1807 in Poems, In Two Volumes. Untitled except for the number 18, it appears in the section of the book entitled Sonnets, subsection Part the First - Miscellaneous Sonnets. See Poetry

Chapter 29:

  • "Ah, memories of things past." - One translation of the title to Marcel Proust's several-million-page work "A la recherche du temps perdu," usually called Remembrance of Things Past, Remembrance of Times Past, or In Search of Lost Time. BTW that last is the source of the title for a 1968 album by the Moody Blues: In Search of the Lost Chord.
  • Dennis Tallett notes that Proust lifted his title from the second line of Sonnet #30 by William Shakespeare, as translated by Voltaire (see Poetry for the original; I'm still looking for it in French.).

Chapter 30:

  • "Del Rio consulted the chess book and studied the board and moved another piece." - Mike Lloret wrote in the the following observation: "It's the only mention of a chess book, and seems very odd in context: he's playing a game, not doing a chess puzzle or the like, and his subsequent moves don't fit with consulting a book."
  • "My strength is as the strength of ten." - See Oft Quoted and Poetry. Also see the Oops in the Notes section.

Chapter 32:

  • "Coals to Newcastle." - An adage meaning a useless enterprise; doing something which is not necessary. The nearest major coalfield to London (by water) is on the northeast coast of England around Newcastle. Seams of coal occur at the surface along the coast to the north, and along the banks of the river Tyne.
  • Or so I originally said. Gareth Davies wrote in with a fuller history of the matter: "In fact Newcastle upon Tyne isn't the closest coal field to London; quite the opposite if anything. However, in the middle ages the burgers of Newcastle purchased from the King the sole right to sell coal in London; effectively they bribed their way to a monopoly. As a result the only coal sold in London was from Newcastle, and, until the development of Seaham Harbour in the 1840s, the only outlet for North East England's coal was via the Tyne, and the wealthy merchants of Newcastle."

Chapter 34:

  • "Is it Margaret that you mourn for?" - Gerald Manley Hopkins, Poems [1918], No. 55, Spring and Fall: To a Young Child, line 1. See Poetry and Oft Quoted

Chapter 35:

  • GilmoreHeadshot

    Artis Gilmore

    "Looked like a short Artis Gilmore." - An exceptional basketball player, he still holds several ABA records, and was lucky enough to play for the Boston Celtics for half a season. It's the Afro Spenser is thinking about.

Chapter 35:

  • "I felt like Bobby Troup" - An actor and musician, the story goes that he was headed toward the west coast and wrote the first two stanzas of the song "Route 66" on his road map before he reached Los Angeles. Recorded by The Nat King Cole Trio in 1946 "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66" entered the R&B chart, where it peaked at #3. Later that summer, it became a pop hit as well, just missing the Top Ten. See Lyrics.

Chapter 36:

  • "It'll be like the Big Chill." - A 1983 movie. The IMDB says: "A seminal Thirty-Something movie in which a group of old college friends who are now all grown up and hardened by the big wide world come together for the funeral of Alex, a barely glimpsed corpse (which if rumors are to be believed is played by Kevin Costner), who was at one time the brightest and the best of them, and yet who never managed to achieve half as much as any of the others. The friends use the occasion to reacquaint themselves with each other and to speculate as to what happened to their idealism which had been abundant when they were younger."
  • Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline; the supposed next generation of American movie stars. Does this sound like Spenser and company? Not bloody likely.
  • "Tony Robbins seminar." - a "self development" guru who makes his money by claiming to teach others how to be successful. It sounds like snake-oil to me, but maybe I've seen too many people who supposedly made millions of dollars and spend their time filming infomercials offering to tell you how they did it if you send them a few hundred of yours. A paper shredder is usually a more effective way of getting rid of excess cash.
  • "A movable feast." - The phrase is often misused as in Parker's joke, meaning we can eat anywhere. I meant to research it further but forgot and left this space blank. Fortunately J. Maddocks was kind enough to send in the following: "A 'movable' feast is a religious feast that does not occur on the same date each year. Easter is observed by the churches of the West on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or following the spring equinox (March 2I). So Easter became a 'movable' feast which can occur as early as March 22 or as late as April 25. The reason for this is that the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar rather than a solar one. Easter should fall on Nissan 14th each year. The Jewish calendar is primarily lunar, with each month beginning on the new moon, when the first sliver of moon becomes visible after the dark of the moon. The problem with strictly lunar calendars is that there are approximately 12.4 lunar months in every solar year, so a 12-month lunar calendar loses about 11 days every year and a 13-month lunar gains about 19 days every year. The months on such a calendar "drift" relative to the solar year. On a 12 month calendar, the month of Nissan, which is supposed to occur in the Spring, occurs 11 days earlier each year, eventually occurring in the Winter, the Fall, the Summer, and then the Spring again. To compensate for this drift, an extra month was occasionally added: a second month of Adar. The month of Nissan would occur 11 days earlier for two or three years, and then would jump forward 29 or 30 days, balancing out the drift."

Chapter 37:

  • "Guys just like to have fun." - A play on "The Girls Just Want to have Fun" by Cindi Laupner. See Lyrics.

Chapter 46:

  • "Mindful of Wild Bill Hickock." - "Wild Bill" Hickock was one of those larger-than-life figures from the old West, as I explained in Small Vices. He made the mistake of playing poker in a saloon one day with his back to the door, and Jack McCall came in and shot him from behind. Iain Campbell added the following information: "I hunted further on Hickock, and found that McCall at one point claimed Hickock had killed his brother, though that was later proven to be untrue. As for trial, he apparently as found "not guilty" by the local court, though the Feds were still looking for him. Confusing. Maybe not guilty used to mean 'justified'!"
  • BTW at the time Hickock was shot he held two pairs, aces and eights, which is still referred to as the "dead man's hand." To be more accurate he held the aces of spaces and clubs, the eights of spades and clubs, and the deuce of spades.

Chapter 48:

  • "Caveat Emptor." - A Latin phrase often translated as "Let the buyer beware." In other words, if I cheated you on that deal it's your fault for not knowing better.
  • "She was always on his mind." - Hisao Tomihari points out that this is emphasized too much not to refer to the song. Always On My Mind was first recorded by Elvis Presley in 1972 and got as high as #16 on the country charts. Willie Nelson covered it in 1983 and it not only went to #1 but earned him a Grammy for Best Country Vocal. See Lyrics

Chapter 52:

  • "Brave, clean, and reverent." - The oath taken by Boy Scouts states: A Boy Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

Chapter 53:

  • "No such thing as a bad donut." - I overlooked this one, figuring it was on the same idea as "The worst beer I ever drank was wonderful," but I now tend to agree with Hisao Tomihari that Parker might be once again referring to "There's no such thing as a bad boy." See Oft Quoted

Chapter 54:

  • "Lochinvar" - It's how Ives always refers to Spenser. See Oft Quoted and Poetry

Chapter 56:

  • "The most good for the most people." - The basic premise of Utilitarianism, as expressed by the 19th century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham is "the greatest good for the greatest number." I will skip the long and boring data file I accumulated researching this and point to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan where Spock says to Kirk: "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

Chapter 58:

  • "Bring a lot of force to bear on a small section of the enemy by moving a small force around rapidly." - Pretty much how General Carl Von Clausewitz stated it in book 3, chapter of On War. He considers it a "simple concept."

Chapter 59:

  • "Zulu." - A 1964 movie. Let me quote Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide: "True story about undermanned British forces trying to defend their African mission from attack by hordes of Zulu warriors. Dramatic elements tend toward cliché, but virtually half the film is taken up by massive battle, which is truly spectacular and exciting."

Chapter 60:

  • "Mongol hordes." - A group of nomads from central Eurasia who, from the 1300s to the 1800s, liked to drop in on their neighbors for a spot of looting and pillaging.
  • "We deal in lead, friend." - As I mentioned above, a line from The Magnificent Seven, spoken by Steve McQueen to Eli Wallach as the bandit leader.

Chapter 62:

  • "Viva Las Vegas." - A 1964 Elvis Presley film; if you hear the title song it will stick in your brain forever. He was at the top of his form in this one, which isn't saying much; it's quintessential 1960s fluff. See Lyrics

Meanwhile, in the Spenser UniverseEdit

We learned some more details regarding some of the background characters.

  • From Walking Shadow we knew that Vinnie liked Do-wop music. We also learned that unlike Spenser his taste has kept up with the times (or at least the times of thirty years ago.) Vinnie Morris asking for Pink Floyd or Procol Harem? My opinion of the guy shot up immensely. And while I expected him to be able to fine-tune a balky firearm, the news that he can fix just about anything mechanical rounds out his character. Maybe he's been more valuable than just a shooter to his employers over the years.
  • Bobby Horse never made any impression up until now, being just a hunk of muscle guarding Del Rio. He hasn't come much further, but like Hawk and Chollo he assumes a stereotype others may expect and knows that anyone who rates his attention knows who and what he really is. "He-who-walks-everywhere-and-is-never-spotted"? Gag me with a tomahawk.
  • Bernard J. Fortunato is sensitive to any remarks about his height or manliness, and has learned to compensate with belligerence. That may work with most people he encounters, but in this group of strong, self assured guys he stands out. The others are comfortable with exactly what they are and shrug off any such sleights.
  • Pearl, the aging wonder dog, is getting on in years. There is a vocal minority who have always hated her (much like the ones who wish Susan would step out of the picture) but it's not going to happen. See chapter 34 for Spenser's idea of reincarnation: "Mourn for an appropriate time...and buy another brown German shorthair...and name her Pearl."

Favorite LinesEdit

Chapter 4: And she's trying out for wide receiver

"'Did you ever play football, Mr. Spenser?' Bebe asked.
'Long time ago, Mrs. Taylor - you know, leather helmets and high-tops'"
'What position did you play?'
'Strong safety.' I said.
'I'm not surprised,' she said and ran the tip of her tongue along her lower lip.
My guess was she didn't know a strong safety from traffic safety, but she recognized the word strong. I was glad I hadn't played weak side linebacker."

Chapter 5: Anyone but that Italian actor, what's his name, Magenta?

"'You think you can crack this?'
'Sure.' I said.
'Well, you know,' Ratliff leaned back in his chair and laced his fingers behind his head, 'if you do it would make a hell of a story.'
'You going to make me a star?' I said.
'I could make a hell of a film out of your story, you pull this off,' he said. 'You be interested in a small option against a big purchase? I'll be straight with you. It'd be only if you solve this."
'Who plays me?' I said.
Ratliff smiled.
'It's a little early for casting, Spense.'
'Yeah but it's crucial,' I said.
'Well you could certainly consult on the casting. Probably give a credit. Separate card.'
'I'll get back to you,' I said."

Chapter 10: This space intentionally left blank while I think of a suitable punchline

"I had my gun in an ankle holster, but I didn't want to start shooting it in

the middle of the street if I didn't have to. I took another step back, and slid my belt out of my pants loops. It was a wide leather belt with a big buckle. I had a momentary vision of my pants falling down, and me winning the fight when everyone fell down laughing."

Chapter 12: I like long walks in the park, shooting people, slow dancing...

"'You're not too talkative, are you,' Luther Barnes said.
'I'm a good listener,' I said. 'And a very good dancer too.'
Barnes frowned.
'When you do talk,' he said, 'must you be a wiseacre?'
'I fight it all the time,' I said. 'Was there something you wanted me to do for you?'
'We'd like you to rid us of the Dell,' Barnes said.
'You mind if I freshen up a bit first?' I said."

Chapter 15: At least he's not claiming to be a "compassionate conservative"

"I sort of trusted the Preacher. He appeared to be a vicious thug and I had no reason to think that he wasn't. It was nice to be able to count on somebody."

Chapter 17: And normally that's the upside of working with Spenser

"'I got us a gig out west in the desert,' I said.
'That usually means I get no money,' Hawk said. 'And somebody shoots at me, but I got to travel a long way.'"

Chapter 27: You say the anode, and I say the cathode, let's call the whole thing off

"'Would you have any interest in exploring my authentic untamed self?' I said.
'Your what?'
'My untamed self,' I said.
'God, if I haven't encountered it yet, I don't think I want to.'
'You got something against authenticity?' I said.
'No. I'm just afraid I'll get hurt.'
'Maybe later when I've calmed down,' I said.
'Maybe,' Susan said. 'What brought on this sudden attack of authenticity?'
I told her about Sara.
'We assume Sara was having an affair with Steve Buckman?' Susan said.
'Yes, but a fully authentic one,' I said.
'What would an inauthentic affair be?' Susan said.
'One which used a battery-powered device?'"

Chapter 27: But it's on page 12 of the thug manual, I "have" to say it

"'You Spenser?'
I hooded my eyes and spoke through my teeth.
'Who wants to know?' I said.
Beside me Susan made a sound that was a little like a snort but more elegant.
'She thinks I lack originality,' I said to the surfer."

Chapter 30: Here's a shovel, would you mind digging a hole first?

"'What's Tannenbaum do for a living?'
Del Rio smiled.
'He's a venture capitalist,' Del Rio said. 'Like me.'
'What's he invest in?'
'Drugs, whores, numbers. . .usual thing.'
'Where would I find him?'
'Palm Springs,' Del Rio said.
'Maybe I should go out and talk with him.'
Del Rio smiled and moved a chess piece, sat back, and looked at the move with satisfaction.
'It would save you the drive if you were to shoot yourself here.'"

Chapter 30: I love you just the way you are

"'I need some help with this guy Tannenbaum,' I said. 'And I need a few hard cases to go out to the desert with me and clean up a town.'
'Clean up the criminal element?' Chollo said.
'We are the criminal element,' Chollo said.
'Yeah, but you're not their criminal element.'"

Chapter 31: Roots: The California Chapter

"'Tannenbaum connected with this Preacher hombre, maybe?' Chollo.
'Hombre?' I said.
'Just like to stay authentic to my heritage,' Chollo said.
'Chollo, you grew up in East L.A.,' I said.
'And I'm true to my heritage,' Chollo said. 'I am a thug.
'And a good one,' I said.
'A thing worth doing,' Chollo said, 'is worth doing well.'"
Chapter 32: Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream seems to work either way
"'You ever get sick of shrinkage, you could get a license and join me. Spenser and Silverman, investigations.'
'Alphabetically it's Silverman and Spenser,' she said.
'But I'd be senior partner.'
'And I'd be main squeeze,' she said.
'Silverman and Spenser,' I said. 'Investigations.'"

Chapter 40: SPF 20, Kemo Sabe

"'I maybe found a way to get above them and shoot down.'
'Can you find it again?' I said.
Bobby Horse drank some vodka and tonic.
'I am a Native American,' he said.
'Oh yeah,' I said. 'I forgot. Can you show me?'
'If you can walk as softly as I can,' Bobby Horse said.
He never smiled. I never knew for sure how much of his white-man-speakum-with-forked-tongue Indian routine was schtick. I was pretty sure most of it was. I looked at his bare chest.
'Tomorrow you can take me and Hawk up there,' I said.
He nodded. His upper body was bunched with muscle. There was a white scar that ran across the coppery skin of his chest from near the left shoulder almost to his bottom ribs on the right side.
'You been out all day with no shirt?' I said.
He nodded again.
'Don't Native Americans get sunburned?' I said.
'Use 'um sunblock.'"

Chapter 49: So, Randy Newman was right all along?

"'You want us to be surreptitious?' Hawk said.
'Surreptitious?' Sapp said.
'I educated in Head Start,' Hawk said.
'Really worked,' Sapp said.
'No reason to be covert,' I said.
'You too?' Sapp said.
'Nope,' I said. 'I'm a straight Anglo white guy of European ancestry. We're naturally smart.'
'You missed Bernard,' Sapp said.
'Tall straight Anglo white guy,' I said.
'Hey,' Bernard said."

Chapter 49: I don't know much about art, but I know what I like to kill people with

"'What are you going to use from the window?'
'The Heckler,' Vinnie said.
'I will use a handgun,' Chollo said. 'Giving me a shotgun is like asking Picasso to paint with a broom.'
Vinnie nodded.
'Just what I need,' I said. 'A couple of Divas.'
I looked at Bobby Horse.
'I suppose you want a bow and arrow,' I said.
'Kiowas are flexible,' he said."


  • Chapter 2: A club sandwich at the bar in the hotel lobby.
  • Chapter 16: Pasta with clam sauce at home. Made with canned clams and frozen peas, but we must make sacrifices.
  • Chapter 19: Fried chicken and mashed potatoes at the Horseradish Grill in Atlanta.
  • Chapter 27: Oyster shooters and pot roast at the Buffalo Club in Santa Monica.
  • Chapter 32: Orange juice, coffee, and heuevos rancheros in the hotel dining room.
  • Chapter 34: Lobster salad and boiled native corn at Susan's.
  • Chapter 35: A rather gruesome selection of road food. See "The Lists of Spenser" below.
  • Chapter 36: Meatloaf, beans, and biscuits. Courtesy of Tedy Sapp.
  • Chapter 45: Apricot pancakes with cactus pear syrup and hones. Courtesy of Bernard J. Fortunato.
  • Chapter 46: A Cactus Club sandwich at the Rattlesnake cafe. "Chicken, tomato, bacon, and lettuce, but no cactus."
  • Chapter 58: Hash and eggs with toast, courtesy of Bernard. And ketchup. "You can't have too much ketchup on hash."
  • Chapter 61: Six buckwheat pancakes.
  • Chapter 62: Onion omelets (eggs and pan-fried onions) with biscuits. Made "beautifully" by Spenser.


  • Chapter 2: Draft beer with his club sandwich at the hotel bar.
  • Chapter 8: A Coors draught at the bar in the Jack Rabbit Inn.
  • Chapter 9: Another beer after leaving Bebe asleep.
  • Chapter 12: Another beer, same place.
  • Chapter 19: Wine with dinner
  • Chapter 20: Coffee at the Bath House bar and grille.
  • Chapter 21: Beer in the bar at the Mirage.
  • Chapter 25: A martini with Nancy Ratliff in Santa Monica.
  • Chapter 27: A Ketel martini or two at the Buffalo Club.
  • Chapter 29: Jug wine at Carlotta Hopewell's house.
  • Chapter 30: Iced tea with Vincent Del Rio.
  • Chapter 34: Iron Horse champagne at Susan's.
  • Chapter 36: Scotch and soda on the porch.
  • Chapter 40: A beer on the porch.
  • Chapter 45: Iced tea at the Rattlesnake Cafe.
  • Chapter 47: Coors on the front porch of the Jack Rabbit Inn.
  • Chapter 48: Perrier with a slice of orange at the Jack Rabbit Inn.
  • Chapter 55: Blue Moon beer in the long neck bottle.

The Lists of SpenserEdit

A category I made up just for this book because I wasn't sure where else to put this.

The Road to Potshot (ch. 35)Edit

Listened to:

  • Carol Sloane
  • Clark Terry
  • Sarah (Vaughn)
  • Bob Stuart
  • (Frank) Sinatra
  • Mel Torme
  • Ella (Fitzgerald)
  • Clifford Brown
  • a couple of Afro-Cuban CDs
  • Tony Bennett
  • Carmen McRea
  • Anita O'Day
  • Stan Kenton
  • Bobby Hackett
  • Johnny Hartman
  • much to Vinnie's disappointment, no Pink Floyd or Procol Harem.


  • donuts
  • peanut butter nabs
  • prewrapped ham sandwiches
  • pre-condimented cheeseburgers
  • chicken "deep-fried in cholesterol"
  • food from
  • Shoney's
  • Shakey's
  • McDonald's
  • Burger King
  • KFC
  • truck stop buffets
  • Big John's Steak House
  • small sub sandwiches
  • biscuits and gravy
  • biscuits and sausage
  • biscuits and sausage with gravy
  • chicken fried steak with cream gravy


  • coffee
  • Coke
  • bottled water

Fueled at:

  • Gulf
  • Mobil
  • Esso
  • Pilot

Tools of the trade (ch. 42)Edit

  • two AR-15s
  • three pump-action shotguns
  • a Winchester .45 carbine (given to Spenser by his uncle years ago in Laramie)
  • a Heckler & Koch with a 20 round magazine
  • a Jaeger Hunter with a scope
  • a .44 Rugar bush gun
  • a BAR (courtesy of Bobby Horse)
  • Extra handguns:
  • a Walther P38
  • two Brownings
  • a Glock 17
  • three Smith and Wesson .357 revolvers


  • Well, Parker has now definitely changed Spenser's past. Gerald So wrote to point out that there is a discrepancy about which DA's office the big guy used to work for. In The Godwulf Manuscript, God Save the Child, and Promised Land it was Suffolk County. Now in Walking Shadow, Thin Air, and this book he was with Middlesex County. The two are next to each other but Boston and a few surrounding towns are Suffolk. Middlesex starts just north of the city in Cambridge and extends westward to include my town of Framingham, twenty miles out. I imagine Spenser started out in Suffolk because he is closely associated with Boston, but Parker has lived in Middlesex for quite a number of years.
  • The Donuts of Spenser: A bit of dialogue between Spenser and Hawk in chapter 52 may need some explanation.
"'Ever had a Krispy Kreme donut?' I said.
'Me either.'"
As far as I can tell, Krispy Kreme is a large franchise with shops scattered throughout the country. The donut machines are automatic and somehow spit the things out untouched by human hands. They are said to be very good.
Being from New England myself I have no idea. If you've been reading these books for a while you know that Dunkin' Donuts are the preferred brand around here, and I can't walk more than four blocks in any direction without stumbling across one. There have been rumors recently that Krispy Kreme is planning to march onto our turf. The rebels on the battle road into Concord and Lexington are polishing up their muskets.
(Note: The first Krispy Kreme location in Massachusetts opened in 2003. It was one of seven New England locations opened in the early 2000s in an attempt to expand to Dunkin' Donuts' home turf. All seven closed within a few years. As of 2016 the Krispy Kreme corporation was poised to try again.)
  • As I've noted before Parker almost always phrases his dialogue as "he/she/[insert name] said." I have compiled a short list of when he has deviated from that standard and included it on a page I call You Don't Say
  • Oops: Once again we are reminded that Parker's Doctorate was not in mathematics. In chapter 30 Chollo asks how many people are in the posse, and Spenser notes there are seven including himself, "Which really makes it seventeen. As you know my strength is as the strength of ten." The six of them plus the ten of you make sixteen, Galahad.
  • Oops2: When Spenser asks to borrow Chollo he calls Vincent Del Rio. When we met him in Stardust his first name was Victor. Thanks to Simone for pointing this out.
  • Oops3: In chapter 35 Spenser and the guys start their drive on the Mass Pike heading west at 8:00 in the morning. I never noticed but Daniel McCormack wrote in to point out an obvious error: "In the years since I've read Potshot-- I haven't gotten over the fact that as the gang leaves Boston on a bright morning, Parker says the sun is in their eyes. Maybe I misread it, or maybe Parker just decided to momentarily reverse the rotation of the earth for dramatic effect."
  • Plug: This is the third time Spenser has mentioned listening to Carol Sloane, and the second time he has mentioned her album with Terry Clark. Ms. Sloane was kind enough to write and tell me that the CD is "The Songs Ella and Louis Sang" from Concord Records (CCD 4787-2). I listened to a few samples on and decided that getting a copy would be a very good idea. (For the record, that's Ceremony ch. 19, Hush Money ch. 28, and Potshot ch. 35.) She now has her own site at
  • Show me the money: After a long string of cases that left Spenser worse off than when he started this one generated enough money to pay his henchmen and still turn a tidy profit.

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