(Posted by Bob Ames in May 2004.)

One of the things I've noticed about Parker's writing style is that his characters "say" things. Whether someone is shouting, groaning, or asking a question it is always phrased the same e.g.: "Are you going to shoot me?" he said. Very infrequently he will vary it, and it stands out. There are fourteen novels in which we have collectively caught him at it so far, but that's not to say there aren't any others. If you find any more let me know.

The Godwulf Manuscript ch. 10

  • "Ask him again, Joe," he rasped, "now that Sonny's got him softened."
Thanks to Rahmani Vanterpool.

Promised Land ch. 28

  • "On the other hand," she mumbled.
Thanks to NLeggatt.

The Judas Goat

  • ch. 18:
"I can't move," she gasped.
  • ch. 31:
"Him too," she gasped.
Doug Ewing supplied these and noted "actually, she had a few more gasps and a hiss, too."

A Catskill Eagle

  • ch. 3:
  • "Rico Petrocelli," I mumbled."
  • "Dalton Jones," I mumbled."
  • "George Scott," I mumbled."
  • "Jose goddamned Tartabull," I snarled.
The above doesn't really meet the same criteria as the others but I have to mention it. Spenser is trying to act drunk and Parker used the above to show that he is deliberately expressing himself in an unusual manner. Living as I do in Red Sox country and having a few friends who are not immune to alcohol I may have been witness to this very conversation.
  • ch. 4:
  • "This the back," Hawk murmured.
Thanks to Susan Bilmanis.
  • ch. 11:
  • "A golden oldie," Hawk murmured.
Thanks to Susan Bilmanis.
  • ch. 21:
  • "I didn't know that," Hawk murmured.
Thanks to Susan Bilmanis.
  • ch. 26:
  • "No chance," I whispered.
  • "They're bailing out," Hawk whispered.
Thanks to Susan Bilmanis.
  • ch. 32:
"No mas," Chico gasped.
Thanks to Bruce Krulwich.
  • ch. 42:
  • "Officer," I yelled, "quick. A man's been shot"
Thanks to Susan Bilmanis.
  • ch. 45:
  • "Him too," Hawk murmured.

Taming a Sea-Horse

  • ch. 13:
  • "I don't like you saying that," he rasped
Thanks to Susan Bilmanis
  • ch. 23:
  • "Talk to me, baby," Susan muttered, "whisper in my ear."
  • "I'd smite the sun if it offended me," Susan murmured.
Thanks to Susan Bilmanis for both of the above.
  • ch. 30:
  • "Or could," Hawk murmured.
Thanks to Bruce Krulwich.

Pale Kings and Princes

  • ch. 2:
  • "Adamantine," Rita Fiore murmured.
  • ch. 15:
  • "I know," Juanita hissed.
  • "I know," she hissed again.
Thanks to Bruce Krulwich for both of the above chapters
  • ch. 21:
  • "Brett," Caroline hissed.
Thanks to Rahmani Vanterpool.

Crimson Joy

  • ch. 31:
  • "Shush," she hissed.
  • "Run," she hissed.
  • "Would you put me through this," she hissed.
  • "Run," she screamed.
  • Ch. 32:
  • "Shoot me," Felton gasped.
  • "Papa," he sobbed.
Thanks to Bruce Krulwich all the entries in this book.

Playmates ch. 23:

  • "This will be hard," Dr. Silverman murmured.
Thanks to Constance Erickson-Loucks.

Stardust ch. 20:

  • "Good choice," I murmured.
Thanks to Mandy Strohl.

Chance ch. 50:

  • "Shut up," I explained.
The first one I noticed, and still the funniest in my opinion. Actually, Parker may have stolen it from Ring Lardner's The Immigrants [1920] chapter 10:
Are you lost daddy I arsked tenderly.
Shut up he explained

Sudden Mischief ch. 24:

  • "Nice talking to you," Hawk murmured.
Thanks to Bruce Krulwich

Hush Money ch. 55:

  • "I need him," she screamed at Susan.
Once again, Constance Erickson-Loucks alerted me to this one.


  • ch. 4:
  • "Do you have a gun?" the blond asked.
  • "Did you ever play football, Mr. Spenser?" Bebe asked.
  • ch. 7
  • "What I know," he whispered.
  • "Yeah," he whispered.
  • ch. 10
  • "Small-claims court," he murmured.
  • ch. 50
  • "Of course it does," Butler keened.
I want to thank Frank G Wilkes for remembering that someone "keened" which lead me to re-read the book and track it down. I totally missed the three instances where Parker showed how softly The Preacher spoke.

Family Honor ch. 19

  • "Shut up, Brock," Betty said.
  • "Isn't that sweet," Brock said.
  • "Shut up," she explained.
Bruce Krulwich found this and noted that it seems to be a parody of my favorite line from Chance.

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