|Preceded by||Mortal Stakes|
|Followed by||The Judas Goat|
"For Joan, David, and Daniel"
Taken from the back cover of the paperback edition
- Spenser was good at finding things. But this time he had a client out on Cape Cod who was in way over his head. Harvey Shepard had lost his pretty wife -- and a very pretty quarter million bucks in real estate. Now a loan shark was putting on the bite, sending in the toughest muscleman Boston's big boys could hire.
- Spenser found himself doing a slow burn in the Cape's sand and sun. The missing wife had turned up, but she was a hot suspect in a case of murder one ... the in-hock hubby had just twenty-four hours before the mob promised to make him stone-cold dead ... and suddenly Spenser was in so deep that the only way out was a plan so risky, it made dying look like a sure thing.
- Here we see Hawk for the first time, working as a legbreaker for King Powers. Hawk and Spenser have known each other for twenty years or more, when they used to fight on the same card. (We learn a lot more about Spenser and Hawk's past in Pastime).
- Susan figures prominently in the story as well, forging a bond with Spenser that will last a lifetime.
- Spenser seems to spend a great deal of time convincing Harv that King Powers won't come after him when he gets released on bail. But of course King does come after Harv and Spenser as well, and Spenser mentions that he expected this to happen. So was Spenser just trying to reassure Harv, or did he really think King Powers wouldn't seek revenge? The latter seems highly unlikely.
Literary References, or "The Annotated Gumshoe"Edit
- "Madame Sosostris." - This one slipped right by me but Dennis Tallett sent the following: "Spenser has just moved into his new office that was once used by a fortune teller and he mentions the name of Madame Sosostris. She can be found in The Waste Land - Burial of the Dead by T.S. Eliot, stanza 3, line 43." See Poetry
- "You're gonna run for president..." - Being as I am middle-aged and a local of this area it seemed obvious to me, but Gabrielle Devenish wrote in to note the following:
- "I didn't get what he was alluding to, so I did a little searching. Turns out Hyannis is where JFK spent many of his boyhood summers." That's former president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and while the family still gathers at their compound in Hyannisport I can't understand why anyone still cares.
- "...loosing the surly bonds of earth." - A play on High Flight by John G. Magee Jr. a quite stirring poem about the joys of flying. I put a copy on the Poetry page.
- "The way to a man's remorse is through his stomach" - A play on Fanny Fern's Fern Leaves : "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach."
- "Better late than never" - Livy [Titus Livus] History, Book IV, Section 23: "Potius sero quam numquam."
- "Susan's smile was Technicolor, Cinemascope, and stereophonic sound." - I missed this one but Merricat pointed out it was from the song "Stereophonic Sound" from the musical Silk Stocking, a 1955 musical comedy starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, although this song was performed by Fred and Janis Paige. Words and music by the immortal Cole Porter. See Lyrics
- "Where in hell were you twenty years ago?" "Marrying the wrong guy." - Hisao Tomihari noted that this is a reference to the conversation between Rick and Ilsa in Casablanca:
- "Where were you, say, ten years ago?"
- "Ten years ago? Let's see, yes, I was having a brace put on my teeth. Where were you?"
- "Looking for a job."
- "If Bartholemew Gosnold had approached the cape from this direction he would have kept on going." - The famed navigator discovered and named Cape Cod in 1602.
- "Ah, the fertility of my imagination. Maybe she was the captive of a dark mysterious count in a castle on the English Moors." Simone Hochreiter wrote in to note: "It is an allusion to the 'Gothic Novel', a popular kind of novel at the England of the 18th/19th century. The Bronte sisters were the most famous writers of that particular novel, most famous Wuthering Heights."
- "A man's gotta believe in something." - It sounds like a line from an old movie, John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart, that kind of thing. The closest I got was a sign I saw in a bar once: "A man's gotta believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink."
- "Kemo Sabe." Eddie Taylor thinks he is very funny talking to the American Indian bartender in old-time stereotyped dialogue. It's from the radio and later TV show The Lone Ranger. While the phrase was often translated as "faithful friend" or "trusty scout," researchers variously pegged it as "one who is white" or even "soggy shrub." The best guess is that one of the original writers saw a sign for a boys summer camp, Ke Mo Sah Bee. The best rendition of the story I've found is at the Old Time Radio site. Thanks to Kerry Shannon for pointing out that I had not mentioned this one.
- "It's because my heart is pure." - And as such his strength is as the strength of ten. Hisao Tomihari points out that this is the first mention of the line from Sir Galahad by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. See Oft Quoted and Poetry
- "...woke up in the morning feeling like Bartleby the Scrivener." - A story by Herman Melville, about a clerk slowly going mad with these sort of duties.
- "If you'll get your Amazon to unguard the door" - The Amazons were a legendary tribe of Women warriors. Kerry Shanley caught this one and pointed out a great link to the ninth labor of Hercules and his dealings with them at Tufts University.
- "Protests, excursion and alarums." - Stage directions from Shakespeare, especially the plays about the various Henrys (4,5,and 6). I imagine much protesting was done, "excursion" refers to the moving around of the characters and "Alarums" is the equivalent of the modern "noises off" or offstage noises meant to imply that something is happening (soldiers fighting as an example.) Dealing with Pam Shepard's new friends was a little less intense than the Battle of Agincourt but apparently not by much.
- "...you're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod." - An unforgettable song by Patti Page, it hit #3 on the top 40 in 1957. I visited her web site and found that she's still going strong. See Lyrics
- "Home's where you can go and they have to take you in" - Robert Frost, The Death of the Hired Man.
- "Of course, you also can't do a great deal about famine, war, pestilence, and death." - A reference to the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, as described in Revelation 6:1-8 (King James Version, of course). One wonders if the Biblical reference was intentional, given the name Promised Land, and its own biblical reference.
- "You mean love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage?" - Aside from being the theme of the TV show Married With Children (sung by Frank Sinatra), it's the title of a song written by Sammy Cahn (lyrics) and Jimmy van Heusen (music) for the TV musical Our Town . See Lyrics
- "I was beginning to see black spots dancing like visions of sugar plums before my eyes" - Most likely a reference to Clement Clarke Moore's A Visit from St. Nicholas [December 1823]: "The children were nestled all snug in their beds, / while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads." See Poetry
- "Sweets for the sweet, my love." - Dennis Tallett notes:"'Sweet to the sweet; farewell!' said Gertrude in Hamlet, Act V, scene 1, line 237, as she scatters petals over the dead Ophilia."
- "Plimouth Plantation." - This living history museum now has its own website.
- "I [am] not a crook" - Dennis Tallett provided the specific quote: "'Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got.' President Richard Nixon to newspaper editors in Orlando, FL, 17 Nov. 1973, when he was questioned about his taxes."
- "The Children of the Dream." - Susan is sitting in a chaise by the pool reading Bruno Bettelheim's book, subtitled "Communal Child-Rearing and American Education", published in 1969. Good to see the guidance counselor keeping her professional nose to the grindstone.
- "A little Scott Joplin music in the background, maybe." - Once again Iain Campbell reminded me to include what I had passed over as too obvious to mention (at least to an old timer like myself): "I'm guessing that since Spenser is rejoicing at the thought of flimflamming King Powers, this is a reference to Joplin's hit music in The Sting, the 1973 movie with (Robert) Redford and (Paul) Newman in which 'Two clever con artists arrange an elaborate sting against a powerful crime lord.'" Scott Joplin (1867-1917) was one of the masters of the "ragtime" style of music. His Maple Leaf Rag has never gone out of date but just about the time of his death a new form called "Jazz" took over and people forgot the earlier works. In The Sting the distinctive theme is from his 1902 composition The Entertainer. Ask your parents what I mean when I say that the "45 rpm" is turning on my "record player" as I write this.
- "Cogito ergo sum" - René Descartes, Le Discours de la Méthode , IV: "I think, therefore I am" (Je pense, donc je suis). Originally stated by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics, Book IX, Chapter 9: "To be conscious that we are perceiving or thinking is to be conscious of our own existence."
- "...sicklied over with the pale cast of thought." - From Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Act 3 scene 1.
- "Put a lot of change in your purse." - "Put money in thy purse" is what Iago says. Shakespeare, Othello [1604-5], Act I, Scene 3, line 345.
- "Into each life some shit must fall" - a somewhat more modern version of a line from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Rainy Day , stanza 3: "Into each life some rain must fall/Some days must be dark and dreary"
- "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know." - Dennis Tallett has identified this as a 19th century proverb.
- "On the walls of the observatory...were graffiti...some remarks about the sister of somebody named Mangan." - Most likely a reference to the character of the same name in the short story Araby , from James Joyce's Dubliners. A fairly depressing story, but not a bad one. I read it when I was a freshman at Northeastern.
- The observatory and view at the Blue Hills reservation. Graffiti is in abundance, but Mangan is not mentioned :)
- "Tough but oh so gentle" - See Oft Quoted
- "Death before dishonor" - Hmm. The closest I can find is Horace's Odes, Book IV [23 B.C.], part 1, line 45: "It is not the rich man you should properly call happy, but him who...fears dishonor worse than death." Jacob Sconyers points out a more likely source:
"I think a less rarified reference would be more appropriate. In the paramilitary context of the book, and keeping Spenser's own service in mind, it may be that he is simply referring to the long-time unofficial credo of the Marine Corps." Indeed, there was a 1987 movie about the US Marines with the title "Death Before Dishonor." I also traced it to Lucius Annaeus Seneca (circa 5bc-65ad) but Spenser was probably not mentally translating "Potius mori quam foedari." (Thank you Iain, as always, for helping me get the Latin right.)
- "He will not go behind his father's saying" - Robert Frost, Mending Wall , (confirmed by Mikael Holmberg). See Poetry
- "The Suffolk County Court House in Pemberton Square" - I did a little study of the history of Pemberton here
- "Good hunting, Clyde." - Referring to Clyde Beatty (1902-1965), a circus owner and wild animal trainer, mostly remembered for his daring stunts involving lions. He appeared in several serials and feature films as a dashing adventurer in Africa taming the wild beasts. The merged Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus is based in Florida and still performs across the United States, including an annual July 4 visit to my hometown of Natick, MA.
- "It was an ungainly place." - Famously said of Stormont Castle, now the site of the Irish Government.
- "Thoreau said something once about judging the cost of things in terms of how much life he had to expend to get it." - Another vague one. This seems to be a common thread in Walden . I found a few passages that, while not using the words Spenser chose, seem to reflect similar ideas. For example, in 1, Economy, he says:
- It is not necessary that a man should earn his living by the sweat of his brow unless he sweats easier than I do.
- Another example is this one, from 2, Where I Lived, and What I Lived For:
- A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.
- The only other reference I could find that resembled the above idea was from his Journal [published 1906], in the entry dated March 11, 1856:
- That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.
- Other than that, I don't know. Suggestions are welcome.
- "Songs unheard are sweeter far" - Glenn Everett writes: "indebted to Keats's Ode on a Grecian Urn: See Poetry
- 'Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
- Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
- Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
- Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone. . . .'"
- "Free to be you and me." - The title of a very popular children's book by Marlo Thomas, 1972. Basically it's message is be what you are, not what is expected of you.
Meanwhile, in the Spenser UniverseEdit
- Spenser and Susan are obviously in for the long haul. With two exceptions, (cf. A Savage Place, Valediction), we have not seen Spenser be unfaithful to Susan in all the books after this one.
- Spenser even went as far as to propose to Susan at the end of the story, only to learn that Susan just wanted the security and knowledge of being asked, and was perfectly happy with their relationship the way it was. So they have come to an understanding.
- Spenser's quick words to Hawk to get him out of being arrested certainly don't go unnoticed. It's possible that Hawk may have helped Spenser out at the end even if he had been arrested with the others, but I doubt it. And as we know, the stories since have all shown Hawk to be a very good friend.
Chapter 1: Spenser's first client in his new office
- "'He doesn't look too happy with the new neighborhood,' she said.
- 'If I were in a neighborhood that would make him happy, he couldn't afford me.'"
Chapter 2: Maybe if the tape matched the upholstery?
- "One of the costumed kids at the door parked my convertible with an embarrassed look. Most of the cars in the lot were newer and almost none that I could see had as much gray tape patching the upholstery.
- 'That young man seemed disdainful of your car,' Susan said.
- 'One of the troubles with the culture,' I said. 'No respect for age.'"
Chapter 3: Spenser, Dirty Old Man(tm)
- Shepard's daughter came back, I eyed her surreptitiously behind my sunglasses. Surreptitious is not leering. She might be too young, but it was hard to tell."
Chapter 4: Ye of little patience
- "She shrugged again. I thought about getting up and throwing her through the window. It made me feel good for a minute, but people would probably call me a bully.
- 'You love your mother?'
- She rolled her eyes at the ceiling and gave a sigh. 'Course,' she said and looked back at the circles she was making with the coffee cup. Perhaps I could throw it through the window instead."
Chapter 5: We are gathered here together, dear friends, to worship
- "He drew it in a tall straight glass. Very good. No steins, no schooner or tulip shapes. Just a tall glass the way the hops god had intended."
Chapter 7: Zen and the art of surveillance
- "At three o'clock a wino in a gray suit, a khaki shirt and an orange flowered tie stumbled into my doorway and urinated in the corner. When he got through I offered to brush him off and hand him a towel but he paid me no attention and stumbled off. What is your occupation, sir? I'm an outdoor men's room attendant. I wondered if anyone had ever whizzed on Allan Pinkerton's shoe."
Chapter 9: Spenser, inducer of paranoia
- "Protests, excursion and alarums followed Pam Shepard's decision but in the end it was agreed that we would, in fact, stroll down tower the harbor and that Jane and Rose would follow along, at a discreet distance in case I tried to chloroform her and stuff her in a sack."
Chapter 9: What about unsophisticated private eyes?
- "She didn't look like someone who'd need to pick up overweight shovel operators in bars. Hell, she could have her choice of sophisticated private eyes. I wondered if she'd object to the urine stain on my shoe."
Chapter 11: Spenser discusses his "ball-breaking" experience
- "'I think your hips are beginning to widen out,' she said. 'Are you still shaving?'
- 'Gnaw,' I said, 'it did no damage. If it had, all the waitresses here would be wearing black armbands and the flag would fly at half-mast at Radcliffe.'"
Chapter 12: Spenser, master of the insult
- "'It is hard, Powell,' I said to him, 'to look tough when your nose is peeling. Why not try some Sun Ban, excellent, greaseless, filters out the harmful ultraviolet rays.'
- Powell stood up. 'Don't smart-mouth me, man. You wising off at me?'
- 'That a picture of your mom you got tattooed on your left arm?' I said.
- Powell looked down at the dragon tattoo on his forearm for a minute and then back at me. His face got redder and he said, 'You wise bastard. I'm going to straighten you out right now.'"
Chapter 12: Hawk's heritage
- "'Hawk,' I said. 'All this time I've known you I never could figure out why sometimes you talk like an account exec from Merrill Lynch and sometimes you talk like Br'er Bear.'
- 'Ah is the product of a ghetto education.' He pronounced both t's in ghetto. 'Sometimes my heritage keep popping up.'
- 'Lawdy me, yes,' I said. 'What part of the ghetto you living in now?'
- Hawk grinned at Susan. 'Beacon Hill,' he said."
Chapter 13: Spenser's boxing tip #481
- "It's hard to hit a heavy bag with an uppercut. It has no chin."
Chapter 14: Once a horse's ass, always a horse's ass
- "The note said, 'Lurking in the bathroom is a horse's ass. It requires the kiss of a beautiful woman to turn him into a handsome prince again." I stepped out from behind the door, into the room. Susan put the note down, turned and saw me. With no change of expression she walked over and gave me a small kiss on the mouth. Then she stepped back and studied me closely. She shook her head. 'Didn't work,' she said. 'You're still a horse's ass.'"
Chapter 15: Are they in the yellow pages under "wood" or "carving"
- Pam Shepard said, 'Oh, very nice. Why it's as neat as a pin. I always pictured bachelor apartments with socks thrown around and whiskey bottles on the floor and wastebaskets spilling onto the floor.'
- 'I have a cleaning person, comes in once a week."
- 'Very nice. Who did the woodcarvings?'
- 'I have a woodcarver come in once a week."
Chapter 15: Ah, culture
- "Across the way a movie house was running an action-packed double feature: The Devil in Miss Jones and Deep Throat. They don't make them like they used to. Whatever happened to Ken Maynard and his great horse, Tarzan? ... Did Ken Maynard really have a great horse named Tarzan? If Ken were still working, his great horse would probably be named Bruce and be a leather freak."
Chapter 18: Jeez, why do I always get these damned peanut junkies in my bar?
- "Saps. I was disgusted with both of them. It's an occupational hazard, I thought. Everybody gets contemptuous after a while of his clients. Teachers get scornful of students, doctors of patients, bartenders of drinkers, salesmen of buyers, clerks of customers. But, Jesus, they were saps. The Promised Land. Holy Christ. I had another beer. The peanut bowl was empty. I rattled it on the bar until the bartender came down and refilled it. Scornfully, I thought."
Chapter 19: Thank you very much, and be sure to tip your waitress
- "'Don't smart-ass with me, Johnny or you'll be looking very close at the floor. Understand what I'm saying to you?'
- 'Aw come on, Sylvia, stop terrifying me. When I get panicky I tend to violence and there's only two of you in the room.' The straggly haired cop with the tattoo had hung up the phone and drifted over to listen.
- 'Want me to open up a window, Jackie,' he said. 'Then if he gets mean we can scream for help?'
- 'Or jump,' Sylvia said. 'It's two floors but it would be better than trying to deal with an animal like this.'
- I said, 'You guys want to talk trade yet, or are you working up a nightclub act?'"
Chapter 20: Do they have intramurals for that?
- "I said, 'Is he going to play golf in his Anderson-Little cutaway?'
- 'He's going to change in the clubhouse,' Macey said. 'Haven't you ever played golf?'
- 'Naw, we were into aggravated assault when I was a kid.'"
Chapter 24: The Sylvia and McDermott show, Part 2
- "We reached my car. There was a parking ticket under the windshield wiper. I took it out and slipped it into the breast pocket of Sylvia's maroon blazer. 'Show me the kind of clout you have around here,' I said. 'Fix that.' I got in the car. As I pulled away Sylvia took the ticket out of his pocket and tore it in two. As I pulled around the corner on County Street he was giving half to McDermott.
Chapter 24: The real Susan Silverman
- "I spotted Susan's Nova in the lot. When I unlocked the door to the room she was there. Sitting in front of the mirror with a piece of Kleenex in her hand, her hair up in big rollers, a lot of cream on her face, wearing a flowered robe and unlaced sneakers.
- 'Arrrgh,' I said.
- 'You weren't supposed to be back yet,' she said, wiping at some of the cream with her Kleenex.
- 'Never mind that shit, lady,' I said, 'what have you done with the real Susan Silverman?'
- 'It's time you knew, sweetie, this is the real me.'
- 'Heavens,' I said.
- 'Does this mean it's over?'
- 'No, but tell me the fake you will reappear in a while.'"
Chapter 25: You have to be careful about choosing your opponent
- "Few people can match Susan Silverman for lobster eating. She leaves no claw uncracked, no crevice unpried. And all the while she doesn't get any on her and she doesn't look savage.
- I tend to hurt myself when I attack a baked stuffed lobster."
Chapter 25: The Sylvia and McDermott show, Part 3
- "I said to Klaus, 'I'm the guy set it up. I'm the one knows the people and I'm the one that supervises the swap. I'm what you might call your key man.'
- Clancy said, 'Go ahead, McDermott. Lay it out for us, we want to get the arrangements set.'
- McDermott lit a miserable-looking cigarette from the pack he kept in the pocket of his T-shirt.
'Well,' he said, 'me and Jackie was sitting around the squad room one day, thinking about crime and stuff, it was kind of a slow day, and here comes this key man here.'"
- Chapter 2: Hot hors d'oevres, steak, and one of Susan's escargot at Pier 4.
- Chapter 5: Linguica on a crusty roll with a green pepper ring at the bar in the Silver Seas.
- Chapter 7: Lamb stew for supper at the hotel.
- Corn muffins for breakfast from room service.
- Fried clams and cole slaw in New Bedford.
- Six oysters, a one pound steak with Bernaise sauce, salad with an excellent house dressing.
- Chapter 8: Coffee and donuts from Dunkin Donuts. It's his "training-table breakfast."
- Chapter 10: Oyster stew at the hotel.
- Chapter 11: Six oysters and a steak at the hotel.
- Chapter 14: A fisherman's platter at Berts. He pushed the haddock over behind the french fries.
- Chapter 15: Breaded lamb cutlets in a butter and wine sauce, fried potatoes, greek salad back at his apartment.
- Chapter 17: Steak and eggs in a diner on the way back to the Cape.
- Chapter 20: Parslied rack of lamb, blackberry cheesecake at the hotel.
- Muffins for breakfast.
- Chapter 22: Spaghetti and salad at his apartment with Pam.
- Chapter 24: Oysters and Lobster Thermador at Coonamessett Inn.
- Chapter 25: Two hot dogs and a cream soda in City Hall Plaza.
- Custard pie and coffee at the diner.
- Chapter 26: Coffee and English muffins at the diner.
- Hash, eggs, bagels, cream cheese in a Deli on Tremont.
- Chapter 2: Amstel at home.
- Heineken at Pier 4.
- Chapter 5: Schlitz draft at the Silver Seas.
- Chapter 7:
- A bottle of Burgandy with his lamb stew at the motel.
- A half bottle of chablis and a liter of beer with his steak at the motel.
- Two beers with his fried clams in New Bedford.
- Chapter 10: Two beers with his oyster stew at the hotel.
- Chapter 11: Steins of Harp with lunch.
- Chapter 13: Three beers at the bar.
- A lot of Bourbon after his workout.
- Chapter 14: Heineken at Bert's with lunch.
- Chapter 15: Amstel at home. California burgundy with supper.
- Chapter 18: Harp draft in the hotel bar.
- Chapter 20: Two vodka gimlets with dinner. Cassis after dinner and champagne later.
- Chapter 22: Utica Club Cream Ale at home. Gallo burgundy from a jug with dinner.
- Chapter 23: Two margaritas before dinner, Irish coffee after, a bottle of burgundy later.
- In chapter 1 Spenser moves his office to a turret above a cigar store. It's now a bank branch (see Second office) but Keith Sullivan remembers:
- "On one of your picture tours you have a shot of Spenser's first office location out on Mass Ave. and you say that it is a bank now, and wonder if it was ever a cigar store. Well, it was, and called the Berklee (or Berkeley) Smoker. Sometime in the early 70's, '71 or '72, it was either owned or managed by the father of a girl I knew. I looked for a job there, but ended up not taking it because of the hours."
- I wish Parker had found an excuse to use detectives Sylvia and McDermott again. They're two of the most amusing characters he ever came up with.
- It's interesting that one of Spenser's favorite catch phrases is introduced in this book by someone else. Deke Slade noted that "Adolph Hitler liked dogs." It wasn't until Sudden Mischief in 1998 that Spenser explained in so many words that it meant people are inconsistent.
- Rose asks if Spenser and Pam spent the night in the apartment. "'No,' I said, the way I used to say it to my mother."
- Spenser claims he got the salad dressing recipe from his mother.
- Those golden days of yore:
- Spenser leaves $20 for two Linguica sandwiches, several drafts, Eddie's boilermakers, and a tip at the Silver Seas.
- At the hotel bar he leaves $10 for three martinis, three beers, and a tip.
- As usual, parking tickets are routinely discarded. Try that now and the Registry computers won't give you a new license or renew your registration.
- Show me the money: Not only is Spenser fired but Harv threatens to sue him to get back what he has already paid. Of course, when things get a little worse he calls Spenser back in.