Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What's your favorite book?

Un-journal Prompt 2

Favorite book

Short answer: There are way too many to name in choosing a single favorite book. Besides, I have favorites in various genres and themes.

Longer answer: How about if I tell you about a favorite series by a favorite author. The series and author I’ve selected to rhapsodize about is Robert B. Parker. In hindsight, I really should have selected another favorite author, one a little less prolific. There’s so much out there by and about Dr. Parker that this could very well turn into a dissertation. However, it’s Parker I chose because it’s Spenser I love!

Spenser, a Boston private investigator, has been the PI in more than 30 novels written by Parker who died in January 2010. It’s no exaggeration that Parker has been called the dean of American crime fiction. He won tons of awards; and more than 50 books, graduate theses, and scholarly papers have been written about Parker and his work. His widow Joan contracted with mystery writer Ace Atkins to continue the Spenser series. And I must say, Atkins has been true to Spenser. In addition to the Spenser series, Robert B. Parker wrote three other series: one featuring Jesse Stone, a small town police chief with an alcohol problem; one featuring Sunny Randall, a female PI; a western series; and several stand-along novels. His estate now has four writers continuing the work one man did!

Anyway, back to Spenser. I was introduced to Spenser via the television show, “Spenser: for Hire.” Robert Urich was Spenser and Avery Brooks was Hawk. Both of them were gorgeous! J The show (1985-1988) was well done with lots of action and snappy dialogue. The spin-off show (one season 1989) featuring Hawk was called “A Man Called Hawk.” When the two dramas went off the air, I was bereft. Really! It wasn’t until the early 1990s when the first of several TV movies aired that I found out, realized and/or discovered that the weekly programs and the TV movies were based on books!! Out I dashed to the nearest bookstore to get my Spenser fix. That’s when I found out that this author by the name of Robert B. Parker had been writing these Spenser novels since 1974!! The rest is … well, you know.

For the last several years, I’ve read each new Spenser novel via audiobook. Joe Mantegna, who portrayed Spenser in several A&E movies, reads all of the Spenser novels. In my mind’s eye, Spenser, his long-time love Susan Silverman, and Hawk remain the characters I used to see on TV. In the books, Spenser is always in his 40s, even though time does pass - a neat trick!

As for which of the books in the series is my favorite, I’d have to pick “Now and Then” from 2008. Here’s an excerpt from my 2008 Reading Log (and, yes, I've been keeping an annual reading log that long!):
“Now and Then” is truly classic Spenser with Spenser, Hawk, Susan; and the backup players Chollo, Quirk, Belson, etc. In this case, the rift between Spenser and Susan that happened 20 years ago is back in the forefront as Spenser investigates an adultery case. The couple ends up dead – he an FBI agent, she a college professor having an affair with a probable terrorist. Susan winds up in danger and it takes all of Spenser’s crew to protect her. This was one of the best Spenser cases in a while.

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