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Small Vices  
SmallVices
Series Spenser
Publisher G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date 1997
Media type hardcover
ISBN 0-399-14244-4
Preceded by Chance
Followed by Sudden Mischief

Cover InformationEdit

Dedication: "For Joan: You may have been a headache, But you've never been a bore" (See Annotation below)

Taken from the book jacket of the hardcover edition:

Spenser dies--and lives to tell the tale--in Robert B. Parker's stunning new bestseller.

"Spenser proves himself once more a modern-day knight in shining armor," cheered Publisher's Weekly of Robert B. Parker's most recent New York Times bestseller, Chance. And, said The New York Times Book Review, "Parker's stouthearted hero proves that he is still as tough and manly as they come, and more principled than ever." With Small Vices, Parker adds another masterpiece to the private-eye canon, a novel that is both galvanizing action-suspense and a complex meditation on morality and mortality, as Spenser's very future hangs in the balance.

Ellis Alves is a bad kid from the 'hood with a long, long record, but did he really murder Melissa Henderson, a white coed from ritzy Pemberton College? Alves's former lawyers think he was framed, and they hire Spenser to uncover the truth. As he and longtime associate Hawk race from the back streets of Boston to Manhattan's most elegant avenues, Spenser gets a postgraduate course in the seamy side of life--an ethical no-man's-land where twisted cops and spoiled rich kids with peculiar private proclivities are just the tip of the iceberg.

The stakes abruptly shift from corruption to catastrophe when a master assassin's bullets take Spenser down. He survives the attack--barely--but must play dead to the world, while recovering his strength hiding in secret. Only then can he see justice done--and let the shooter know that it's payback time.

Wonderfully wry and powerfully affecting, Small Vices is a splendid showcase for Robert B. Parker's prodigious talents.

Robert B. Parker is the author of more than twenty-eight books, including the recent Spenser bestsellers Chance and Thin Air. He lives in Boston.

Recurring CharactersEdit

  • Susan, one of the two pillars of strength on which Spenser needs to draw so much to come back from the brink of the abyss. Susan provides the emotional and mental support.
  • Hawk, of course, is the other pillar, providing the physical support.
  • Rita Fiore works for the law firm that helped convict Ellis Alves. It's about time Rita went private, she can make a lot more money this way.
(Note: Mike erred in the above. Joel Cassway wrote in to note that Rita was an assistant prosecutor in the Norfolk County's D.A.s office when she help convict Alves. She is using her current position in the law firm to determine whether he committed the crime.)
  • Healy, the Criminal Investigation Division commander, provides Spenser with information on the original murder. Have we ever actually learned his first name, BTW?
  • Spenser pays a visit to Coach Dixie Dunham at Taft University, with questions about a possible link to the case.
  • Tony Marcus is mentioned.
  • Paul Giacomin puts in an appearance as well.
  • Lee Farrell does bodyguard work for Susan when the Gray Man starts scoping Spenser out as a target for an assassin's bullet. Belson also lends a hand.
  • Captain (yes, Captain) Martin Quirk, of the BPD Homicide division, gets involved when a dirty cop Spenser is investigating turns up dead in the Quincy Market garage.
  • Spenser goes to CIA Agent Elliot Ives for information about the Gray Man while tracking him down.
  • After his recovery, Spenser pays a visit to Henry Cimoli at the Harbor Health Club to assess his weight-lifting abilities (as good as ever, though Spenser was hoping for better. However, to quote Henry: "...you can't shine shit.")
  • Vinnie Morris and Gino Fish drop in briefly, to provide Spenser with more info on the Gray Man.
  • Patricia Utley provides assistance in tracking down the Gray Man's contact in New York.
  • Pearl the wonder dog continues her vendetta against couch cushions everywhere.

Literary References, or "The Annotated Gumshoe"Edit

The significance of the dedication: "For Joan: You may have been a headache, But you've never been a bore." Michael Frasier found this one. It's from the original lyrics to Thanks for the Memory, a 1938 Academy Award winner for Best Song from the movie The Big Broadcast of 1938. Bob Hope used it as his theme song for several decades. See Lyrics

The significance of the title - It's a quote from William Shakespeare's King Lear [1605], Act IV, scene vi, starting at line 169: "Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear; / Robes and furr'd gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold, / And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks; / Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw does pierce it. What makes it very interesting was this extremely accurate interpretation from BIGCATCWK@aol.com (and this person hadn't even read the book yet!): "To me, the quote stands for the idea that money can hide a man's sins and character flaws (Robes and furr'd gowns hide all). While if you are poor, even your smallest weaknesses will be exposed to the world. (Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear). Given enough money and power you can be above the law (Plate sin with gold And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks) (e.g. O.J. Simpson). While if you are poor, you have got big problems when faced with even a weak case (Arm it with rags, a pigmy's straw does pierce it.)

Relying on the quote and title, it is easy to take a stab at the plot of the book. The accused rapist is the person with the "tatter'd clothes" who is facing trumped up charges, while the true rapist is the son of a rich and powerful member of the communty who is sporting Shakespeare's "Robes and furr'd gowns." The true rapist's money and power protect him from the law and Rita Fiore's charges. His gold plated protection in the form of slick lawyers and hired hoods, however, obviously will not protect him from rough justice - the type of justice that Spenser loves to hand out.

Chapter 1:

  • "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." - A popular quote often attributed to Gloria Steinem, but such is not the case. See Oft Quoted

Chapter 2:

  • "Truth will out." - Probably a play on "murder will out," a popular saying in detective fiction, meaning the murderer will be revealed. It's originally from The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. It's in The Nun's Priest's Tale, and the main thrust there is that murder is so repellent to God that he will not allow the criminal to go unpunished.

Chapter 4:

  • "Happiness is not the art of being well deceived (so much for Alexander Pope.)" - I'm a little confused here. The line "Happiness is the perpetual possession of being well deceived" is attributed to Jonathan Swift. Alexander Pope talks at length about happiness in An Essay on Man.

Chapter 6:

  • "Brendan Cooney." - It's on the name tag of an officer manning the desk of the Pemberton College campus police. Two books later in Hush Money a young man holds up a sign from the sunroof of a Ford Explorer reading "Brendan Cooney for King." There he is referring to a student activist who was part of an anti-sweatshop group founded in 1997 at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio.

Chapter 12:

  • "Compromise is not always the refuge of scoundrels." Samuel Johnson noted that "Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels" and a common saying I have been unable to track down notes that "Politics is the art of compromise."

Chapter 13:

  • "...turned their lonely eyes toward Boston." - Sounds like a take on Mrs. Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel. "...a nation turns its lonely eyes to you." See Lyrics

Chapter 14:

Chapter 16:

  • "What's this 'we,' white eyes?" - See Oft Quoted.

Chapter 17:

  • "Susan was reading a book by Frederick Crews debunking her profession." - That would be Memory Wars: Freud's Legacy in Dispute (1995).
  • "There's always a silver lining." - Hisao Tomihara found it. See Oft Quoted

Chapter 21:

  • "I'll take it [the tennis racket] away from you and play Steamboat Willie on it." - George Waller points out: "Refers to the first 'talkie' cartoon by Disney that made Mickey Mouse famous as Steamboat Willie" See http://disney.go.com/vault/archives/movies/steamboat/steamboat.html for details.
  • "Peter Parker, the photographer." - This, of course, was the real identity of Spiderman, newspaper photog and web slinger. Nice cover, Spenser.

Chapter 23:

  • "Eugene Debs." - Labor leader, unionist, founder of the Socialist Party of America.
Arnez

Desi Arnaz and his pompadour.

  • "A big Ricky Ricardo pompadour." - George Waller points out: "Refers to male lead of '50s TV show "I Love Lucy" which starred Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez. Ricky was a Cuban band leader and husband of the hapless Lucy." The show ran from 1951 to 1957 and was one of the highest rated of that decade. Here's an example of the wonderful hairdo (at right).

Chapter 24:

  • "You plan for what the enemy can do, not what he might do." - Clausewitz, On War. See Oft Quoted.

Chapter 25:

  • "The man in the gray flannel suit." - The title of a 1955 novel by Sloan Wilson, and a 1956 movie starring Gregory Peck.

Chapter 27:

  • "A low knoll deeper into the park." - Okay, let's stop being so serious here. Iain Campbell sent the following bit of raving: "The shot was fired from the knoll. Just one. And not a book depository in sight. And it was big money paying big crime, not the CIA! Fascinating! or am I stretching things too far? To any anglophone alive and capable of remembering 1963, the words 'grassy knoll' have taken on an indelible coloration, I fear."

Chapter 30:

  • "I got to think long thoughts about your chest." - See Oft Quoted

Chapter 31:"A perfect blend of beauty and function." - Once again Iain Campbell spotted this. "Takes us back to Plato who defined beauty as the state arising when form is perfectly adapted to function."

Chapter 32:

  • "Captain Quirk." - Yes, the Lieutenant has finally been promoted. George Waller reminded me to point out this very obvious Star Trek reference.
  • "Philo Vance." - Arthur Martin reminded me to include this reference: Philo Vance, the art connoisseur and amateur detective created by S.S. Van Dyne, was a practitioner of the 'ratiocination' school of crime solving. His work probably inspired Ellery Queen (Frederick Dannay and Manfred B. Lee), the most well-known of the logical detectives.

Chapter 33:

  • "Not a jot or a tiddle." - Matthew 5:18 "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tiddle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled." The meaning is lost in translation. Jot comes from iota, the name of the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet, from which language much of the Bible was translated. There is a little dot over the letter i, the English equivalent.. While jot had its origin in Greek, tiddle developed from the Medieval Latin titulus, meaning "title," "label," or "diacritical mark." BTW my Revised Standard Version reads "not an iota, not a dot" while my New International Version gives it as "not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen."

Chapter 35:

  • "James Butler Hickock." - Simone Hochreiter wrote to remind me that I should give a little background here. "Wild Bill" Hickock was one of those larger-than-life figures from the old West.
  • "Here's looking at you, kid." - Simone also noted that I forgot to include this one. See Oft Quoted.
  • "The cops and robbers, changes places and handy dandy." - William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 4 scene 6. "Hark, in thine ear: change places; and handy-dandy, which is the justice and which is the thief?" In other words, switch the judges and the criminals around and you can't tell by looking at them which is which.

Chapter 36:

  • "He ain't heavy, he's my brother." - See Oft Quoted.
  • Deadwood
    "Who's he...Deadwood Dick?" - Ignoring the sexual innuendo, that is the name of a fictional character from the American "old west" created by Edward Judson and starring in over a hundred"dime novels" in the 1800s. Deadwood refers to a town in what was them the Dakota Territory. Dennis Tallett wrote in to point out "Nat Love (1854-1921). Former slave and most famous black cowboy..." Sorry, but I've found it to almost certainly be self-aggrandizing folklore. Nat Love did move to Dodge City and worked as a cowboy. In 1907 he wrote a highly romanticized autobiography portraying a life filled with Indian fights, famous outlaws, dusky maidens, and amazing feats. In so doing he sought to become accepted as the prototype of the dime novel 'Deadwood Dick' series. He claimed that he entered a rodeo at Deadwood in 1876, won several of the roping and shooting contests, and was given the name 'Deadwood Dick'. In reality, however, Love spent most of his time working as a cowpuncher driving cattle up the Chisholm Trail. James Lawrence supplied a link to an online copy of the book, and Spenser's joke gets even better when you see a picture of the guy.
  • "I know all the lyrics to 'Route 66'." - Bobby Troup would indeed have been proud to know that. See Lyrics.

Chapter 37:

  • "Swiss Family Robinson" - Once again Simone Hochreiter suggested this be included. I found the following at http://www.oup.co.uk/isbn/0-19-282724-3 "The Swiss Family Robinson is an adventure story with a decidedly domestic centre, in which smugness and safety thoroughly outbalance the element of danger. Inspired by Rousseau's theories of education, the story of the shipwrecked Swiss pastor and his family is liberally seasoned with suspense, adventure, and discovery. Popular from the moment of its publication in 1812, it established a pattern for children's literature and continues to appeal to young readers and adults alike." It was also a Disney movie (1960) and a TV series (9/75 to 4/76) starring Martin Milner after his 9/68 to 8/75 run on Adam 12.
  • "For richer, for poorer...in sickness and in health." - Iain Campbell points out that this comes from The Book of Common Prayer, Solemnization of Matrimony.

Chapter 38:

  • "I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas." - From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot. See Poetry

Chapter 41:

  • "You got the maiden." - Ives is referring to his habit of referring to Spenser as Lochinvar. See Oft Quoted and Poetry.

Chapter 43:

Chapter 44:

  • "breeding/lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/memory and desire" - From The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot. See Poetry
  • "If you're a lifer, hope will kill you." - Hmmm. Spenser asks if he is mixing his poets with this line and the last. If he is I haven't found the other one.

"At least no one was calling me the hyacinth girl." - Dennis Tallett wrote in to remind me I forgot to note the end of that same paragraph. "You gave me hyacinths a year ago; / They call me the hyacinth girl." It's from The Waste Land - Burial of the Dead, stanza 3, line 36"

Chapter 45:

Chapter 47:

  • "Enough to swell a progress." - From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot. See Poetry
  • "It's me Lazarus...come back to tell you all." - Again, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot. See Poetry

Chapter 51:

  • "contumescent" - In the opening sentence of this chapter Parker seems to have coined a new word (I have found no listings for it elsewhere.) Let me break it down: "Tumescent: adj. becoming swollen. from the Latin tumescens (tumescentis) from tumescere, to swell up." Often used to describe an engorged penis (Engorge: to congest with blood.)
BTW I asked an expert about the above entry. Iain Campbell notes: "The '-ens' ending is the same as the participial 'ing' ending in English. Tumescentis is the genitive form (means 'of') and is always given in a dictionary so that you can tell what the other forms of the singular and plural of the noun/adjective are going to be."
"Con-" is a little trickier. Used as a prefix it signifies "with" and comes from the Latin "com" or "cum." Iain notes "Perhaps English prof. Parker outsmarted himself. Usually we talk about the 'pros and the cons' meaning the 'fors and the againsts.' 'Con' in this case comes from 'contra' meaning 'against.' Is it possible that Parker wanted to tell us that Spenser was the opposite of tumescent, and created a word?"
Yes, it would seem that Susan and Spenser had a satisfying reunion the previous night and the swelling in question has been relieved :)
  • "...leisurely Sunday mornings with oranges and a green cockatoo." - From Sunday Morning by Wallace Stevens. See Poetry

Chapter 52:

  • "Civilization and its Discontents." - Simone Hochreiter pointed out that Susan wrote the recipe for Beet Risotto on the back of a paperback copy of this, one of Sigmund Freud's later books. Many of his theories on human behavior have been discredited over the last half century, but this one is a keeper. Last referenced in A Catskill Eagle.
  • "A watched pot never boils." - Simone also noted that this proverb should be mentioned.
  • "I love you and you love me and we are here together." - I kept flashing on Come Together by the Beatles, but that's not much help. Nicholas Allen writes: "This could be a lead or reference to Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach: 'And we are here together, as on a darkling plane.'" Thanks Nick. This was confirmed in the A&E movie, where Parker put the above quote in the script.

Chapter 56:

  • "Pygmalion." - I never though to mention this but Simone once again stepped in: "He is - in Greek mythology - a sculptor who fell in love with a statue of a woman he made. George Bernard Shaw wrote a play with the name Pygmalion and the musical My Fair Lady is about the very theme, about a professor who created the perfect woman."
  • Yep, the musical (1956) is based on Shaw's play (1914.) Note that a common theme was a hatred of women until an ideal could be created or transformed. In these more enlightened times I think Susan said it best: "Male chauvinist oinkers."
Thanks for the many additions to this page, Simone.

Favorite LinesEdit

Chapter 1: It pays to advertise

"'Hawk with anybody?'
'Always, and not for long,' I said. 'I don't think he's husband material.'
'No,' Rita said, 'he's not. Be a hell of a weekend, though.'
'I've heard that about you,' I said.
'Really? Where?'
'I think it was written in pencil on the wall of a holding cell in the Dedham jail,' I said.
Rita grinned.
'And the sad thing is, I wrote it.'"

Chapter 3: Not a bad way of looking at life

"'You think you can eliminate crime?' I said.
Jackson snorted.
'So what do you do?' I said.
'Do what I can,' Jackson said in his deep slow voice. 'There's nobody perpetrating a crime on this corner, right now. That's 'cause I'm here. Somebody's perpetrating something someplace else, maybe, but right now this corner is okay...It's not much but it's all there is.'
'Yeah.'
Jackson looked at me for a while. Then he nodded slowly.
'Okay,' he said. 'You too. Okay.'"

Chapter 8: Take only as directed. Apply sparingly...

"'Well, I must say, as adversaries go, you are a lot of fun,' she said. 'A small dose of charm.'
'I've found a small dose to be safer,' I said. 'The full wattage, all at once, and people are sometimes injured.'
'Especially women, I imagine.'
'They often hurt themselves in their frenzy to disrobe.'"

Chapter 14: I'd like to do my own stunts, by my agent won't let me

"'Is it like on TV?' Sandy said.
'Exactly,' I said. 'A lot of time I send my stunt double on the hard stuff.'"

Chapter 17: Tell me again which one the law says has to be on a leash

"Erika continued to cry steadily. Elayna and Susan both stared at me. Erika tried to bite her mother's hand to get her wrist free. Elayna swept her up off the ground and held her kicking and struggling and crying and said loudly, 'I've got to get her out of here. Susan, I'll call you.'
When they were gone, Susan went and stood looking out the living room window for a while. Finally she turned and looked at me.
'Should I have let Pearl go?' I said.
'Do you think she'd really have bitten her?'
'With proper coaching,' I said."

Chapter 19: Are you implying my shillelagh isn't all it could be?

"'Lucky you got me around,' Hawk said, 'to keep them from inducting you into the Girl Scouts.'
'It's the physical.' I said. 'I always have trouble with the physical.'
'You Irish, ain't you?'
'Sure and I am, bucko.'
'So you don't have a lot of trouble with the physical,' Hawk said.
'Just enough.'

Chapter 21: They say beauty times brains equals a constant. I wouldn't, but they do

"The receptionist was clearly a student, probably a cheerleader in her other life, cuter than the Easter Bunny, but nowhere near as smart."

Chapter 22: You've gotta take pride in what you are good at

"'Still a coincidence,' Hawk said.
'Un huh.'
'You like coincidences?'
'I hate them,' I said. 'How about you.'
'Got no feeling on it,' Hawk said. 'You the detective. I just a thug.'
'You're too modest,' I said.
Hawk grinned.
'Didn't mean to say I wasn't a great thug.'

Chapter 23: Cue the spaghetti western music

"I took my .38 out and looked to see that there were bullets in all the proper places. I knew there would be, but it did no harm to be careful. And I'd seen Clint Eastwood do it once in the movies."

Chapter 28: Next on Sally Jesse: "I love my job, but my coworker drives me crazy"

"'You making any progress on this thing?'
'No.'
'No rush,' Belson said. 'I'm here until it's over'
'Me too,' Farrell said. 'When we're on days I get to watch Sally Jesse."
'You got to get me a straight partner,' Belson said. 'I'm over here trying to read Soldier of Fortune magazine and he's sitting in front of the tube saying "where did she get those shoes."
'Well you saw them,' Farrell said. 'Were they gauche or what?'
'See what I mean?' Belson said."

Chapter 30: See, there's nothing to it

"Rita finished her dry bagel and washed it down with her black coffee and looked distracted for a moment.
'A cigarette would taste good now,' she said.
'Eventually you won't miss it,' I said.
'How long for you.'
'Twenty-seven years.'
'And you don't miss it?'
'Not a bit.'
'How long before you didn't miss it?'
'Ten years.'
Rita stared at me and said "Oh, God!'"

Chapter 32: Sergeant Belson...help me...I've...turned into...a hack actor. Why am I...chewing on the...scenery?

"'And Quirk's a Captain now,' he said.
'Captain Quirk?'
The motorcycle cop grinned.
'Captain Quirk.'"

Chapter 35: Maybe we'll just tie you to the luggage rack...

"'Where we going,' I said.
'Santa Barbara,' Susan said.
'California?'
'Yes.'
'We're driving.'
'It's safer.'
'You mind if I sing "California Here I Come" as we roll along?' I said.
'You're in a weakened condition,' Susan said. 'It's better if you rest.'
'I'm just thinking of you,' I said. 'It's a long ride.'
'Remember I got a gun,' Hawk said.
'You'd shoot me if I sing? Your brother?'
'Shoot myself,' Hawk said, 'you sing a lot.'"

Chapter 35: First the singing, now the jokes. Luggage rack sounds better and better

"'Why Santa Barbara?'
'It's far away, it's not a place anyone would look for you. It's warm. I have a friend who knows a person who knows a real estate owner out there. I was able to rent a house.'
'In your name?'
'Mr. and Mrs. James Butler Hickock,' Susan said.
I jerked my head towards Hawk. 'Who's he,' I said, 'Deadwood Dick?'
'That ain't what the ladies call me,' Hawk said.
'Are you guys going to talk dirty all the way across the country?' Susan said.
'I was planning to,' Hawk said.
'Me too,' I said.
'Oh, good,' Susan said.

Chapter 38: What would the neighbors think...oh wait, this is California

"'You collapse,' Hawk said,'and I gonna have to give you mouth to mouth. Neither one of us be liking that too much.'
'Let...me...go,' I said. 'It...comes...to...that.'"

Chapter 42: Another gem from Poor Henry's Almanac

"'I'd say you're as good as new,' Henry said.
'Too bad,' I said. 'I was hoping for better.'
'We all were,' Henry said. 'But you can't shine shit.'"

FoodEdit

  • Chapter 2: Ham on light rye, mustard, side of coleslaw at a sandwich shop on State Street.
  • Chapter 16: Hawk stops by the office with Dunkin' donuts and Starbuck's coffee.
  • Chapter 22: Hawk brings lunch to the office. Broiled Nantucket bay scallops for each and a communal pint of coleslaw.
  • Chapter 28: Green pepper and mushroom pizza from Bertucci's at Susan's house.
  • Chapter 29: Coffee and a corn muffin in a coffee shop with Glenda.
  • Chapter 30: Coffee, juice, and corned beef hash with a dropped egg at the Bostonian during a power breakfast with Rita Fiore.
  • Chapter 33: Eggs, ham, toast, coffee in Quincy Market with Quirk and Healy.
  • Chapter 39:
  • Lobster tail that he cut up all by himself, rice pilaf, and salad at the house in Santa Barbara.
  • Fried chicken with cream gravy and mashed potatoes at Acacia.
  • Fresh orange juice, whole wheat toast, and a California omelet on the terrace of a little dining room attached to a pharmacy.
  • Chapter 52: Rotisserie cooking a boneless leg of lamb seasoned with olive oil and fresh rosemary, beet risotto made by Susan, green salad, and bread at his apartment.

DrinkEdit

  • Chapter 4: Krug champagne with Susan at his place.
  • Chapter 7: Saranac Black and Tan at the Four Seasons Hotel with Hawk.
  • Chapter 10: Beer at the bar in Rialto.
  • Chapter 13: White Buffalo beer at Glenda and Hunt's condo.
  • Chapter 14: Beer at the Pemberton Inn.
  • Chapter 22: Hawk brings a couple of bottles of reisling to share over lunch.
  • Chapter 24: Rolling Rock at the Hotel Meridien after Susan gives a speech.
  • Chapter 28: Merlot at Susan's with pizza.
  • Chapter 46: Wine with Paul in a SoHo restaurant.
  • Chapter 52: Red wine before dinner at his place.

NotesEdit

  • This is the last page that Mike had in the archives. As you can see by the amount of red type he hadn't gotten very far with it, although he probably had pages of notes waiting to be entered.
  • Notice that I found four references to the works of T.S. Eliot in this book. One from The Waste Land and three previously unused quotes from Prufrock, but none of the ones that usually appear. I found it interesting.
  • And exactly where is Taft Univerity? It wasn't until six years later in Back Story that the final clue fell into place. See Taft
  • I am deeply troubled by the line in chapter 5 where Trooper Miller refers to Alves as a "buck nigger." RBP has a few years on me, and may have encountered people I do not know, but as a New England resident my entire life I have never encountered anyone who has used that particular phrase. Then again, Tom Lorenc writes: "Well, after growing up around cops in CT for 19 years I've heard just about every racial slur that one can think of. That one lives and breathes (as of 1982 it did). In fact, I've begun work on a non-fiction book titled "Small Minded, Anachronistic, Terms of Endearment Spoken by Educated Yankees who Should Know Better". Title's a little long winded, but I have no shortage of material. ;) Thanks, Tom. It still makes me a little sick to even read it, much less contemplate the mind of someone who would say it.
  • You mean you don't know? Jo Trostle notes the following inconsistency: "In chapter 6 Chief Livingston tells Spenser that Melissa'a body was found with her pantyhose tied around her neck. In chapter 11 while talking with Miller Spenser asks what he strangled her with, Miller doesn't know. Neither of them know about the pantyhose."
  • It's possible that Spenser was being deliberately vague on that point to test Miller. It turns out that he remembered the evidence he made up or used to frame "that nigger" but didn't recall actual facts like his name or how she was strangled. Then again, Parker is not usually that subtle about plot points.
  • Bill Fiorilli wrote in to note an inside joke that got right by me: "When Spenser is chatting w/ Patricia Utley, Steven brings in her dog, which is a miniature bull terrier named...Rosie." Spenser and Susan are Robert and Joan Parker taken to artistic extremes but their dogs are portrayed accurately. In fact Rosie is one of the more important characters in the Sunny Randall novels.
  • Oops #1: In chapter 34 Spenser sees Mellisa and notes that "She too was barefooted..." Clint was wearing tasseled moccasins and Spenser had on his running shoes. I scanned backwards to try finding anyone else unshod and turned up nothing.
  • Oops #2: In chapter 46, while dining in a SoHo restaurant, Spenser asks Paul how he is doing for money. Paul replies "I still get a check every month from my father." That came as a surprise to me. In chapter 2 of Pastime, six books back, Paul noted that "I haven't heard from him in maybe six years. I haven't a clue where he is. Once the tuition money stopped..."
  • Show me the money: Well, he was hired by a big law firm, and I imagine they cut him a check for his time. Then again, Susan had to sell the house in Concord to finance his rehabilitation in California.

Previous book: Chance • Next book: Sudden Mischief


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