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Robert B. Parker: An appreciation

Posted by Nicole Cammorata  January 19, 2010 03:25 PM

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By Clea Simon, Globe Correspondent

If Philip Marlowe is LA, then Spenser is Boston. Tough, tender, with no first name necessary, Spenser loved food, books, and the Red Sox as well as justice, and made no apologies for these passions. When Robert B. Parker launched him in 1974’s “The Godwulf Manuscript” – searching for a rare missing manuscript from BU as well as a murderer – he brought it all into play, sparking an international fascination with our gritty city and its eternal town-gown tensions. Spenser wasn’t the late Cambridge writer’s only fictional detective. Before Parker passed away, at his writing desk Monday (Jan. 18) at age 77, he had created a tough female counterpart in PI Sunny Randall and a small-town cop variant in Jesse Stone. But Spenser, the protagonist if not the absolute hero of 37 mysteries and a long-running TV series, was Parker’s gem. For those of us who had the pleasure of meeting Parker, holding down one of the big banquettes at Rialto or showing up at the late, great Kate’s Mystery Books to pay off a debt of longstanding friendship, there was little doubt who the big, gruff, and highly literate detective was based on.  A fast, no-nonsense writer as well as an urbane epicurean, Parker, like Spenser, got the job done.

Five Robert B. Parker must-reads to add to your bookshelf

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