The first Spenser short storyEdit

At a book signing in my area Parker told an amusing story of how it came about. Here's what I wrote about that:

Playboy contacted him and asked for a story, which he did not want to supply because he didn't write short stories. Finally he relented and wrote "Surrogate." They rejected it. First and only time he has ever had a manuscript rejected. It wound up being published in a men's magazine whose name he would not mention in mixed company. They began the story in a long skinny column and jumped to the remainder, leaving the rest of that page for a large add for crotchless mouse suits. The punch line: "I'm not even sure what that is. I didn't know mice wore suits."

Brian J Noggle wrote in to say:

"The unmentionable magazine is Gallery. In the May 1984 issue, they have an interview with Robert B. Parker (on the cover it's called 'Robert B. Parker: Rewriting the Book on Justice' and inside it's called 'The Case of Robert B. Parker.') In addition to the profile/interview, 'Surrogate' appears."

The St. John's Press edition.

So we have a story with limited availability that he probably sold for chump change. The next step was to make it even more rare and unavailable but to collect some money for it. Lord John's Press printed up some very nicely bound volumes, 300 regular and 50 deluxe editions, signed and numbered. I don't know what they originally sold for but they are traded on the second-hand market and auction pages for many hundreds of dollars. Nice if you can afford it but there are more fans than copies so that is not a viable option.

Now here is where things get interesting. In 1991 it was included in a collection of short stories printed in Great Britain. Who sold it to them? I don't know how such business is arranged but his agent/lawyer/publisher did so and probably fed the money to his accountant under "miscellaneous." When I put my copy in front of him at the above mentioned signing he expressed surprise that it had been reprinted. My copy is probably the only signed edition of the book extant.

The story has Spenser helping Brenda Loring (who we first met in The Godwulf Manuscript ) with a very serious problem in her personal life. It's a hard hitting piece and very well worth reading, especially as it explicitly refers to the dark side of Hawk's profession.


The "New Crimes 3" anthology, published in the UK.

The book is long out of print so you will have to find it on the second hand market. I highly recommend which I have used many times to buy obscure volumes. Search for "New Crimes 3", edited by Maxim Jakubowski and published by Carroll and Graf. The last time I looked prices started at five dollars plus shipping and went up from there.

BTW: Bibliofind is now part of but it's much better to come in through the above link. 

-Mike Loux, 2003