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Friday, September 14, 2007

Double Deuce

***** Double Deuce by Robert B. Parker. Suspense.

This was a lucky find. I started reading Parker a while ago, but I haven't even tried to collect or read them in order. So when I discovered this one at the Camp Darby library paperback exchange, I snagged it and, contrary to my usual habit, read it right away.

When a teenage girl and her baby are killed in a drive-by shooting at the Double Deuce housing project, a group of the residents hire Hawk to solve their murders and to drive the gang out of the project. Hawk, naturally, asks Spenser to join him.

The story is a study in contrasts. While Hawk and Spenser are spending their days in the poverty-stricken, crime-ridden ghetto, Spenser's taking a stab at living with Susan in clean, comfortable relative luxury, and Hawk is dating a beautiful television reporter. The contrasts build up as Hawk and Spencer's showdown with the gang escalates, until the reporter is taken hostage and the two worlds collide.

There's also a wonderful contrast between the reporter's view of how to help the people of the Double Deuce--a well-meaning but unworkable plan that comes from a privileged point of view--and the limited but real help provided by an ex-nun who knows and understands the environment.

The eventual outcome is never really in any doubt, but this is one of those cases where it's not where you're going that's important, but how you get there. The relationships--between Hawk & Spenser and between Spenser & Susan--are intense and solid, even if Spenser and Susan's relationship is a work in progress. And the dialogue is unsurpassed. I absolutely love the dialogue.

It's a feel-good, good guys vs. bad guys story, and on one level, it's like a Steven Seagal movie, which I'll confess I have a weakness for, but its excellence is in the execution. The pacing: in particular, the elegant meshing of the two main plot threads; the characters; the action...it's all done so precisely that the work is invisible, and the story is real.

It's a first-person story, like the rest of the series, and it's very dependent on the personality of Spenser. I love the character, so I love the books. But if the character grates on you--and I can see how he could--I imagine that the whole book will, too.


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I read ONE Spenser book and didn't like Spenser, himself. Despite all the other things going for it.

Am I really weird for that? So many people love this series; was it maybe the book? Would I like another one better?
Thanks for all the book suggestions. :)
Susan, no--if you don't like Spenser, you won't like the books. Particularly since it's a first-person series, it's very dependent on his personality. I should add that caveat to the review.
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