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Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Catskill Eagle

****½ A Catskill Eagle by Robert B. Parker. Mystery.

Every time I read another Parker novel, I tell myself I'm going to print out a list of all his books, check off the ones I have, and then start getting the rest in order. This time, I'm doing it.

Although, I think I'm happier having read a few later Spenser books before this one, so I know how the Susan thing works out.

Spenser gets a note from love-of-his-life Susan, saying she's in trouble and Hawk's in jail. Seems her new lover, Russell, is possessive and part of a powerful family, and when she'd asked Hawk for help, Russell had him framed for murder.

So Spenser has to break Hawk out of jail, and rescue Susan... although Susan's not quite sure she wants to be rescued. And there are the corrupt cops and the FBI and CIA to deal with as well.

The action/mystery part of the book is exciting and just plain fun. I always love seeing Spenser and Hawk in action, and this is no exception. Just the scene of Spenser breaking Hawk out of jail was worth buying the whole book.

The personal/emotional part, though, is dark and both painful and joyous. Spenser loves Susan, and she loves him, but she also loves Russell. Something about their relationships, the way they're written, touches a chord deep inside (I know that sounds uncharacteristically fanciful, but it's the best I could come up with to describe it). Parker has a genius for conveying his characters' deeper feelings without resorting to flowery language--the essence of "show, don't tell."

I was a bit dissatisfied at first with Russell--it was understandable that Susan would pick someone very different from Spenser, but there didn't seem to be anything about him that would make Susan choose him. Then it clicked: it's in Spenser's POV. Duh. He's not going to see the same things in Russell that Susan does, nor does he want to. It's enough for him to know that Susan loves him. And when I realized that, I was awed all over again.

The first 3 Spenser books are now on my to-buy list.


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