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Monday, March 26, 2007


**** Valediction by Robert B. Parker. Mystery.

My second Parker book in less than a month, and it's a bit confusing. This one is the 11th in the Spenser series.

The mystery is intricate and clever and unexpected--Spenser is hired to rescue an actress who's been reportedly abducted by a cult. Finding her, figuring out what's going on, and who's behind it is a story that's full of twists and turns and just brilliant.

But then there's the personal story, and it's just way too close to the one in Trouble in Paradise, which is a different series, to allow me to enjoy it. Spenser's long-term girlfriend Susan has just been awarded her PhD, and has announced that she's moving to San Francisco. Whereupon they embark on the identical relationship as Jesse Stone and his ex-wife Jenn: obsessed with each other, unable to let each other go, but sleeping with other people and each other. It's identical, right down to the details of Spenser/Stone admitting to other lovers that he's still hoping to go back to Susan/Jenn eventually and being brave and stalwart in the face of emotional angst.

Really, I wouldn't have minded it--would probably have enjoyed it, even--in one book, or one series. And maybe it's my own fault for having read the two books in the same month. But putting identical "romantic" relationships in two different series makes me think that the author sees it as ideal or common, and I can't quite believe it's either.

Of course, Trouble in Paradise was written 14 years after Valediction, so if I'd read them when they were written, no doubt it wouldn't have bothered me at all. I'm still not sure why I read them in this order--normally, if I have more than one book by an author in my TBR pile, I'm almost obsessive about reading them in the order in which they were written.

Ah, well. Water under the bridge. I still liked this, and I'll still read more Parker books. I think I'll just be a little more careful about trying to read them in order from now on.


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