Thin Air  
Series Spenser
Publisher G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date 1995
Media type hardcover
ISBN 0-399-14020-4
Preceded by Walking Shadow
Followed by Chance

Cover InformationEdit

Taken from the book jacket of the hardcover edition.

A beautiful woman vanishes, leaving Spenser to probe the mysteries of her checkered past, in a masterful work of detection that leads him on a trail of obsession and violence.

Taut, wily, and witty, Robert B. Parker's Spenser thrillers are considered private-eye classics in the grand American tradition. Now, with Thin Air, he gives us a tale as haunting as a Coltrane solo, packing the wallop of a knockout punch.

When a Boston police detective's adored young bride, Lisa St. Claire, disappears without a trace, he enlists Spenser's help in tracking her down. Sleuthing from a New England college campus to the slick sports clubs of L.A., Spenser discovers all about Lisa--including her past history of prostitution, substance abuse, and self-destructive love affairs--and suspects she is being held prisoner by her sociopathic latino ex-lover in his crumbling tenement fortress deep within the barrio of a burned-out Massachusetts mill town.

Accompanied by a Chicano shooter with an ironclad attitude and an unflinching sense of honor, Spenser sets in motion a complex plan to rescue Lisa. As he wheels and deals with boozy, broken cops and messianic local warlords, he is forced to face some brutal truths and question the very meaning of passion, manhood, and justice.

Recurring CharactersEdit

  • Det. Sgt. Frank Belson, B.P.D, is the secondary focus of this story, along with his wife Lisa (she's the one who's missing). We actually get to see a more "human" Belson, as he's always been aloof and standoffish in previous books. This time he's been hurt by the disappearance of his wife, and it shows.
  • Chollo (cf. Stardust) returns as the L.A. shooter whose aid Spenser enlists for help for both translation and backup, as well as his underworld connections in Los Angeles.
  • Victor Del Rio (cf. Stardust) shows up briefly, as Chollo's boss.
  • Detective Samuelson (cf. A Savage Place), the LA cop, puts in a brief appearance, providing some information about Lisa's past life as an L.A. hooker.
  • Lt. Quirk returns as Belson's boss, and we get to see a more human side of him as well (but not much), as he and Belson have been friends for years, and he is concerned about how Frank is taking the whole thing.
  • Probably the most conspicuous character in this book is Hawk, mainly because he's absent from this outing. At one point, Spenser mentions he's in Burma.
  • Lee Farrell (cf. Paper Doll), puts in a brief appearance, as a fellow Police detective concerned about Belson's condition.
  • We see Henry Cimoli very briefly, when Spenser does the usual workout routine. In fact, Spenser's working out at the Harbor Health Club when Frank shows up to ask him to look into Lisa's disappearance.

Unanswered QuestionsEdit

  • So who was Luis' father, anyway? I figured it was Delaney, the boozed-out cop in Proctor, but we never find out. RBP must not have thought it was that important.
  • What on earth is Hawk doing in Burma? Perhaps the subject of the next book?
  • While questioning Woody Pontevecchio in his gym in L.A., Spenser notices a well-known actress with large breasts and thin limbs working out half-heartedly. It's somewhat unusual for him to point these things out, so I wonder if RBP wasn't taking his chance to poke fun at a particular actress in real-life. Might be interesting to find out...

Literary References, or "The Annotated Gumshoe"Edit

Chapter 2:

  • "You're already in better shape than Dame Margot Fontayn." - Prima ballerina absoluta of the Royal ballet. One of the top dancers of this century.
  • "Table Talk Junior Pie." - Table Talk Pies is based in Worcester MA, about forty miles west of Boston. The Juniors are four inches across and make a very nice snack or a desert for one. I don't know how far they are distributed but around here they are available everywhere.
  • In days gone by the eight inch pies were baked and sold in a metal dish that could be returned for a five cent deposit. Then again, most everyone I knew kept a few in the kitchen for their own use; why pass up a pie pan that only cost a nickel? Nowadays you can buy them for about five bucks on E-bay.
  • In the A&E film version Joe Mantegna says "you'd think he just stopped off to buy a Devil Dog." More widely understood, perhaps, but the local connection that Parker intended is kicked aside.

Chapter 3:

  • "Better to marry than to burn." - Iain Campbell pointed out that this comes from 1 Corinthians 7:9, and that "Old Paul had a bit of a problem with his sexuality, I understand." Let's look at verses 8 and 9 (New International Version): "Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: it is good for them to stay unmarried as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."

Chapter 4.5:

"Open-shuttered and passive." - See Oft Quoted

Chapter 6:

"...somewhere doubtless a goat-footed man was whistling far and wee" - See my e.e. cummings reference in The Judas Goat. Not sure about the goat-footed bit, although usually satyrs and fauns are goat-footed, so maybe there's a pastoral or greek reference in there. Who knows? Let me expand on this by updating the previous entry: An allusion to e. e. cummings's Chansons Innocentes [1923]. (His poems are as much visual as verbal. It's difficult to reproduce the typography well on a Wiki, so please see the poem in its intended format at The Poetry Foundation.)

Chapter 8:

  • "As if he were studying the Book of Kells." - An illustrated manuscript of the Gospels from a monastery in Kells, Ireland. Quite a beautiful example of calligraphy and miniature paintings.
  • "...violate the Code of Omerta." - The Sicilian "vow of silence" that the Mafia used to enforce quite severely.
  • "music beyond a distant hill" - Nicholas Allen writes: "(It's) from Wordsworths' Michael: 'Make subterraneous music, like the noise / Of bagpipers on distant Highland hills.'"

Chapter 9:

  • "Modes of Being: The Tactical Personae of Men and Women in the Modern World." - Ms. Leighton is reading a philosophical text written by Paul Weiss, first published in 1958. I have been unable to find a copy but the subtitle gives one an idea of its content.
  • "A Macintosh word processor sat on a corner of her desk." - Hisao Tomihari pointed this one out and it reflects the author. RBP was born in 1932, Spenser in 1936 (see The Aging Gumshoe) and to both of them a home computer is not much more than a glorified typewriter and good for very little else. Parker has said in several interviews that he does not surf the internet, although it seems his wife does. Just in case, let me say "Hi Joan." BTW in Paper Doll he notices an Apple word processor. At least he's not using two pieces of paper with a carbon in between.
  • "Life is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think." - Horace Walpole, Letter to the Countess of Upper Ossory [August 16, 1776] (paraphrased).
  • "Uneasy lies the head that wears a deanship" - No doubt a play on "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" (Hamlet). See the reference in Stardust for more details.
  • "Chinese fire drill." - My foreign correspondent Iain Campbell asked about this curious phrase. It's a wonderfully racist name for a completely idiotic American way of showing that one is easily amused. A carload of people pull up to a red light. All of the doors open and the young (usually male) passengers run around the car, then jump in again and drive off laughing as the light turns green. (Note: the last time I did this was in 1970 heading north on Rt. 27 at the center of Natick. My friends and I were very pleased with ourselves.)
  • "There are no waters here" - Straight out of Casablanca [1942]. Matter of fact, Peter Nover adds: "It's the scene where Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine and Claude Reins as Captain Louis Renault watch the planes leaving for Lisbon. The original lines in Casablanca (and I thought I was the only one clever enough to find the reference - grumble!) run as follows:
Renault: "What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?"
Blaine: "My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters."
R: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert."
B: "I was misinformed."
The meaning is, of course, that Rowena Leighton, who seems to be the only likable character to be found in the groves of academe created by RBP (just think of Lowell Hayden wetting himself! [see The Godwulf Manuscript -ed]), feels as uneasy at the University as does Rick Blaine in Casablanca. Both prefer to keep the reasons for their respective staying with an unwelcome situation for themselves. See Oft Quoted

Chapter 10:

  • Chekov (the name of Typhanie's cat) - Well, it could be either the Russian writer Anton Chekov, or Walter Koenig's Russian Ensign character in the original Star Trek series. Knowing Spenser and RBP, I'm inclined to pick the former, although his name is commonly spelled Chekhov. You decide.

Chapter 11:

  • "Skol!" - Jamie Mondalto asked about this parting shot to Delaney as Spenser walked out of the office. In a list of toasts given by drinking companions in various countries I found this one from Denmark, which seems to translate from the Danish somewhat roughly as "to your health." Since Delaney has excused his drinking whiskey in the office as if it were medicine, and Spenser has noticed that the man is a barely functioning alcoholic this is quite ironic.

Chapter 12:

  • "The ways of the Lord are often dark, but never pleasant." - See Oft Quoted.
  • "Hell's half acre." - A section of the Wyoming badlands noted for its striated rock formations and general nastiness. Interestingly, they shot Starship Troopers there. Hostile alien landscape indeed.

Chapter 14:

  • "About three miles from the rude bridge that arched the flood." - Arthur Martin noted this reference to Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson. See Lyrics
  • "Kisses sweeter than wine" - The title of a song. Lyrics by Paul Campbell, music by Joel Newman. Jimmie Rodgers had the hit, it spent 21 weeks in the Top 100 in 1957-58. See Lyrics
  • "Cherchez l'homme" - See the "cherchez la femme" reference in Oft Quoted.

Chapter 15:

  • "The wheels of justice grind exceeding slow" - Paraphrased from Friedrich von Logau's Poetic Aphorisms (Sinngedichte) [1654], Retribution: "Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small." (Translated by Longfellow). Much more information than usual for such an entry but I found the following fascinating. "Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small / Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all." Iain Campbell notes: "According to Brewer's, it goes back to the Latin: 'Dii pedes lanatos habent' (Petronius). Vengeance may be delayed, but it will come when least expected. (Literally, it means: 'The gods have wooly feet' - go figure!)"
mitch009 explains it in detail:
"dii pedes lanatos habent: proverbial but of uncertain meaning; the sense seems to be that the gods do not answer our prayers and that they neglect us. Saturn's feet were said to be wrapped in wool except at the Saturnalia, perhaps because his reign was over. The image of the feet wrapped in wool may owe something to the practice of wrapping the feet of persons with gout (who could therefore not walk) in bands of wool. Perhaps the idea is that the gods enjoy life with their feet warmly clad in wool and so neglect us--all because nos religiosi non sumus."
That's a note by Gilbert Lawall in the Boldazy-Carducci publication of Petronius's Satyricon. It's a little inconclusive, but offers some information at least. The last bit of Latin translates as: "we are not religious." You probably could have figured that out, but whatever. Also the context of the quote: a guy is complaining of the famine and how high the cost of bread is. He mentions how women used to go up the hill barefoot and beg Jove for water. It would rain in pitcherfuls, but now the fields are unproductive. The sense is that the gods are neglecting them because they are not performing their religious duties (sacrifice, ritual, etc.), therefore their produce is suffering.
Very good, but I noticed Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable gave the credit for Retribution to Longfellow, as did a number of sites I visited. On further exploration I found that it was included in a book of translations Longfellow published entitled From the German, but the original author was not cited, hence the confusion.
Bartlett's Familiar Quotations gives the author as von Logau (1604-1655) but also cites George Herbert (1593-1633) from Jacula Prudentum: "God's mill grinds slow, but sure."
Also note that the Petronius quote is from c. 61 A.D. but it is similar to a line from Bacchae by Euripedes (484-406 BCE) "Slowly but surely withal moveth the might of the gods." Sorry, but I couldn't find the original Greek or the source of that translation.

Chapter 17:

  • " don't rain in Indianapolis in the summer time." - From the song Little Green Apples. Written by Bobby Russell in 1968, Roger Miller had the big hit.
The above is my original entry but Jeff Spence wrote in to point out that I was mistaken: "Although Roger Miller charted with it first (peaked at #39, and curiously enough it was actually the final top 40 song of his career), it was a guy named O.C. Smith who had the "big" hit. Ocie Lee Smith, former lead vocalist with the Count Basie Orchestra, took the song to #2 his version was on the charts for 12 weeks and was certified gold. I still have the original Columbia 45rpm around here someplace." I fired up Napster and downloaded the O.C. Smith version. Color me with a "boggled" crayon but I had never heard it until now, although subsequent research tells me that Jeff is right. See Lyrics

Chapter 19:

  • Sic transit gloria - See the reference in Stardust.

Chapter 20:

  • "Father knows best." - My foreign correspondent Iain Campbell constantly reminds me that some television shows may not be known by outsiders, or even by the younger Spenser fans. Robert Young and Jane Wyatt starred in the above named series from 1955 to 1963 as Jim and Barbara Anderson, the parents of three children (nicknamed Princess, Bud, and Kitten.) As noted in The Complete Directory of Prime Time Network Shows: "In contrast with most other family comedies of the period, in which one or the other of the parents was a blundering idiot, both Jim and his wife Margaret were portrayed as thoughtful, responsible adults. When a family crisis arose, Jim would calm the waters with a warm smile and some sensible advise."
  • "My strength is as the strength of ten" - See Oft Quoted and Poetry (Sir Galahad)

Chapter 22:

  • "I'm rollin' on the river out here, rollin' on the river." - Thanks to Iain Campbell for pointing this out. It is from Proud Mary by Credence Clearwater Revival. See Lyrics

Chapter 23:

  • "Love does not alter where it alteration finds." William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116. See Oft Quoted.

Chapter 27:

  • ". . . none of nature's first green came golden. . . " - A reference to Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost. See Poetry.
  • "Toussaint L'ouverture." - He led Haiti to victory over French General Le Clerk in the slave revolution, 1791-1802.
  • "Trust but verify" - Frank LoPinto writes: "If I remember right, this was the catch phrase used to sell the nuclear disarmament treaties between the US and Russia. Specifically I believe this was related to the Reagan era START and INF talks where delivery systems were actually planned to be destroyed... Given these bipartisan shortcomings, it's too soon even to apply Ronald Reagan's old maxim (when dealing with the Russians) of "Trust, but verify." ' - Concord Coalition Newsletter."
Dennis Tallett pinned this one to the ground with the following:
"President Reagan at the White House 12/3/87 with newscasters Brokaw, Jennings, Rather and Shaw on the criticism about the INF arms control treaty he had worked out with the Soviet Union. '......I think I could sum up my position on this with the recitation of a brief Russian proverb "Doveryai no Proveryai." It means trust but verify.' Ref. N.Y. Times 12/4/87 page A10."

Chapter 29:

  • "Frank Lloyd Wright's remark about fire being the heart of a house" - See Oft Quoted
  • "Might I have a mug of nut brown ale?" - This was on my unknown list for ages until Iain Campbell found it in line 100 of John Milton's poem L'Allegro (1645). It's longer than I like to include on my poetry page but you can read it at (thanks Iain) or (thanks Eric Albert).
  • "The wound and the bow" - Something to do with an ancient Greek tragedy about a wounded archer named Philoctetes. I'm having trouble understanding the references. Any scholars out there who could sum it up?
Dennis Tallett read my plea and once again came to the rescue.
"The wound and the bow. (I'll work backwards on this one)
An essay by literary critic, Edmund Wilson titled The Wound and the Bow in a book of the same name, 1947 (coincidentally it has just been republished and is available at the On-line bookstores).
It is a critique and dissertation on the not-very-good play, The Wound and the Bow, 409 B.C., by Sophocles.
Philoctetes, who has been given a bow that never misses its mark, languishes on an island for ten years after contracting a terrible disease following a snakebite. He recovers and returns to fight again and slays his opponent, Paris.
Frank Belson, too, has languished in a disastrous first marriage and always returns to be a very good cop. 'Disability of some kind helps strengthen us in other areas,' says Spenser in chapter 29."

Chapter 32:

  • "He looked like some kind of Ur-dog." - Iain Campbell once again supplies the language reference:
  • "In German, Ur is a prefix meaning ancient, primitive or original. Coincidentally, Urquell (original spring) is a beer of which Spenser is fond."

Chapter 35:

  • "Hoot Gibson." - Edmund Richard "Hoot" Gibson (1892-1962) started making westerns in the silent film days. Iain Campbell notes that his research says the man was best known for comic roles and seldom carried a gun, but I think that was only for a part of his career. Here's a picture of two-gun Hoot.
  • "Sweet bird of youth" - See Oft Quoted.

Meanwhile, in the Spenser UniverseEdit

  • Belson's first marriage was a failure almost immediately after it started, and continued to fail for twenty-three years. He met Lisa at a bar right after going through the divorce with Kitty Belson. They were married six months later.
  • Spenser is once more trying to give up coffee by drinking lots and lots of decaf. So far he's been successful at drinking only decaf, but is none too happy about it.
  • If anything, Susan eats even less than she used to, but will devour whole platefuls of Mexican food.
  • They're still working on the house in Concord (cf. Walking Shadow), and are going to places like Old Sturbridge Village for rehabbing ideas.
  • The city of Proctor is loosely based on the real life city of Lawrence, MA. We know how RBP likes to describe things based on real places or experiences.
  • Spenser's "Broo List":
    • Chapter 2: Rolling Rock, at the East Coast Grill.
    • Chapter 29: Another Rolling Rock, at Old Sturbridge Village.
    • Chapter 38: Pilsner Urquell, at Hammersley's Bistro.

Favorite LinesEdit

Chapter 1: Remember: a Repo Man is always intense

"Outside the boxing cubicle which Henry had squeezed in next to his office was a Babylon of glass and chrome and spandex, where personal trainers, mostly young women with big hair, wearing shiny leotards, trained people on the politically correct way to tone up and be better. Many of them looked at me with suspicion. Henry said it was because I looked like I was there to repossess the equipment."

Chapter 2: An admirable trait in prospective heirs

"The blonde waitress came by and gave me another bottle of Rolling Rock without being asked. I knew she was taken, and so was I. But adoption might still be possible."

Chapter 3: Played by the cop's wife formerly known as Angela, no less

"'You know where she worked before Proctor?'
'Ever hear her program?'
'No, I'm too busy listening to my Prince albums.'
'He doesn't call himself Prince anymore.'
'Who gives a fuck,' Quirk said."

Chapter 7: Maybe for Most Assholes Per Square Foot- three years running

"I followed him into the office - beige rug, ivory walls, walnut furniture, award plaques on the wall. I'd never been in a broadcaster's office that didn't have award plaques. If you were running a pro-slavery hot line, someone would probably give you an award plaque."

Chapter 9: Of all the offices in all the colleges in all the world, you had to walk into mine

"I started for the door and stopped and turned back.
'I have met a number of professors,' I said. 'And none of them were notable for honesty, humor, lack of pretense, and ability to observe. What the hell are you doing here?'
She smiled for a moment and then said, 'I came for the waters.'
'There are no waters here,' I said.
'I was misinformed,' she said."

Chapter 10: Yep, that's Cambridge all right...

"I waited in my car on Brattle Street while two Episcopalian women wearing big hats and Nike running shoes paused in the middle of the road to discuss human rights. I wanted to run them over. Cambridge was the jay-walking capital of the world, and I felt the only way to get control would be to kill a few. I was, however, wary of the Cambridge Police, so I blew my horn instead. The ladies looked up and glared at me. One, wearing purple stockings and sandals, gave me the finger."

Chapter 12: Discipline and control...

"A swarm of young kids on mountain bikes flashed out of an alley and swooped by me. One of them scraped something, probably a 20d nail head, along the length of my car as he passed. I thought about shooting him, decided it would be construed as overreaction, and chose instead to ignore it in a dignified manner."

Chapter 13: Anybody got change for a dollar? I wanna shoot this guy

"'Anything on the bullets?'
'They were nine millimeter Remingtons, we found the brass.'
'That narrows it down,' I said.
'Yeah,' Quirk said. 'In Proctor they sell them in vending machines.'"

Chapter 18: The right card for the right mood

"I gave him the dignified one, where it says Investigations under my name and address. The one where I'm pictured shirtless with a knuckle knife in my teeth I save for the hoodlums."

Chapter 26: Next, you'll be making fun of his accent

"'You fucking Yankees know how to do ugly,' Chollo said. 'I'll give you that.'
'Hey,' I said. 'This is an Hispanic joint.'
'It's Yankee Hispanic,' Chollo said. 'You could have more fun at the podiatrist.'
'We're not here for fun,' I said.
'That's good,' Chollo said.

Chapter 26: Bet the worm tastes better

"Chollo took a sip of the tequila. His face remained expressionless. He said something to the bartender. The bartender didn't bother to look up when he answered. Chollo translated.
'He says we do not have to drink it.'
'What did you tell him?' I said.
'I told him his horse had kidney trouble,' Chollo answered."

Chapter 26: I tot I taw a pwivate eye

Santiago smiled.
'I try to get along as well as I can,' he said. He looked back at me. 'And you, Spenser, are you also quick to take offense?'
'Not me,' I said. 'I am a pussy cat.'
'That may be,' Santiago said, 'though you do not look like a pussy cat.'
I smiled like I had a mouthful of canary and let it pass."

Chapter 28: Besides, what do rice cakes have that even comes close to a good old-fashioned sugar rush?

"I ate another donut. Susan had explained to me that they were not healthful, and while I was in favor of healthful, rice cakes and coffee didn't do it on a stakeout. Susan had explained to me that it didn't have to be rice cakes or donuts. Why not bring along a nice lettuce, tomato, and bean sprout sandwich? I told her that if Chollo reached into the bag for a donut and found a bean sprout he would shoot me, and she'd have only herself to blame for her sexual deprivation. She smiled at me sadly and began to talk to Pearl."

Chapter 29: That would do it

"'You think all the parsons were stern?' I said.
'Of course,' Susan said.
'And all of them were good men despite their sternness?'
'Did any of them get to sleep with a sexy Jewess?' I said.
'No wonder they were stern,' I said."

Chapter 30: At least he's big enough to admit it

"'You ever see McGruff the crime dog?' I said. 'Look out, because he'll want to take a bite out of you.'
I turned and walked out of the office with Chollo behind me.
'Fucking McGruff the crime dog?' Chollo said.
'They can't all be winners,' I said."

Chapter 34: Allergic to decaf

"I went into the shop and bought us a couple of sandwiches and some coffee and came back. Chollo took a sip of the coffee and made a face.
'What the fuck is this?' he said.
'You must have got mine,' I said and we swapped.
'You drink that?' Chollo said.
'You get used to it.'
'Why would you want to?'
'You may have a point,' I said."

Chapter 36: I don't know, I've see entire families of assholes before...

"'House has a stairwell in a front hall,' I said. 'I can see that from here. Probably designed originally as a three-family.'
'How you tell?' Chollo asked.
'My father was a carpenter,' I said. 'It's in the genes.'
'Was he also an asshole?'
'No. That's an acquired trait,' I said."


  • Chapter 2: Spare ribs, beans, coleslaw, watermelon, and extra corn bread at the East Coast Grill.
  • Chapter 14: Smoked turkey on homemade oatmeal bread from Sally Ann's Food Shop while working on the house in Concord.
  • Chapter 16: Susan and he have breakfast on a plane, and speculated between themselves as to what it was.
  • Chapter 17: Chicken fajitas at Lucy's El Adobe.
  • Chapter 20: A Chicken sandwich at The Grill.
  • Chapter 23: Roast chicken at L'Orangerie.
  • Chapter 24: Coffee and two Dunkin' Donuts.
  • Chapter 25: Revives himself at a donut shop in Brunswick, Maine. With what is not specified.
  • Chapter 28: Coffee and plain donuts in the car, scoping out Luis Deleon's redoubt.
  • Chapter 29: Chicken pie at the Tavern in Sturbridge Village.
  • Chapter 34: A sub at a Subway west of Proctor.
  • Chapter 38: Brisket at Hammersley's Bistro.
  • Chapter 43: Dinner cooked on Susan's patio will be grilled buffalo steaks marinated in red wine, rosemary and garlic, plus roasted corn.


  • Chapter 2: Rolling Rock at the East Coast Grill.
  • Chapter 22: Beer at the health club while talking with Woody.
  • Chapter 23: A bottle of Graves with dinner at L'Orangerie.
  • Chapter 26: A small sip of some very bad tequila at the Club del Aguadillano.
  • Chapter 29: At the Tavern in Sturbridge Village he asks "Might I have a mug of nut brown ale?" He settles for Rolling Rock.
  • Chapter 38: Pilsner Urquell at Hammersley's Bistro.


  • This is the third book where sections are told from a point of view other than Spenser's, and from the third person. The first book, Crimson Joy, had sections that were seen through the "eyes" of the killer, and the second, Double Deuce, detailed the prologue through the viewpoint of Devona Jefferson, the teenaged girl killed in a drive-by shooting. This time, the view changes about every other chapter, to that of Lisa St. Claire, and the finale of the story takes place first from Spenser's view, then from Lisa's view, and back and forth until the end. It's actually a very interesting way of doing things, and makes the book pretty damn good. Notice that in all three books, any viewpoint other than Spenser's is written in italics.
  • A minor gaffe, but when Spenser first mentions Victor Del Rio in Chapter 17, he mistakenly refers to him as "Vincent" Del Rio. Whoops.
  • Concerning the names RBP uses for some of his latino character, Alfonso del Barrio had this to say:
The first time I read the name I thought the pronunciation was D - e (like e in employ) - leo (like leo in leotard) - n.
But I realized it was an spanish name so the pronunciation is D - e (like e in pet) - l - e (like e in pet) - o (like o in hot) - n.
  • Spenser makes link with Luis Deleon name and the name of Juan Ponce de Leon, who gave the name to Florida. As you see *de Leon* is written in different way this case. This name means *from Lion* Leon (the stress in the o) is a spanish city in what is known as Old Castilla, it's a very old city founded by Romans BC, actually it's name doesn't came from the spanish word leon (lion) but from the latin word Legio (legion) because a roman legion settled down there.
  • Chollo must be a nickname and with the spanish pronunciation Cho (like cho in chocolate) - ll (like y in yes or like ll in million, depending on the country) - o (like o in hot). it means a bargain, a cushy number But with the english pronunciation of ll, the sound in Spanish would be like the word Cholo, and this is a different word that means half-breed, mestizo and I think this is the real meaning of the nickname.
  • Gerald So noted another gaffe that I had overlooked: "When Spenser visits San Juan Hill, he tells the desk cop he used to work in the Middlesex County D.A.'s office. Wasn't he assigned to the *Suffolk* D.A.? I don't think the mixup was part of Spenser's trick on Delaney. The desk cop forgot that Spenser had said "used to," and Delaney believed Spenser was still a state cop." Good point, Gerald. You are right, all of the other references I could find point to Suffolk County.
  • Where is Proctor? Arthur Martin notes: "I won't swear to it but Proctor seems to be Lawrence, Mass, - a large mill town off 93 in Andover. I haven't been there since the early 70's, and it was dying then." I couldn't agree more. Obscured a bit for the novel but still recognizable.
  • I Smell a Catch Phrase: Actually, Gerald So pointed out this one. In Chapter 22 Spenser says to Woody Pontevecchio "and you call me Spense again I will kick your ass around Westwood like a beach ball." Compare this to Hush Money Chapter 8 where Hawk tells Amir Abdullah "You refer to me as 'him' again and I will slap your skinny ass around this office like a handball."
  • Show me the money: It's personal, not business.

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