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    Review of Back Story by Robert B. Parker


    G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2003

    When a friend of his foster son Paul offers him half a dozen donuts to find out who killed her mother 28 years previously, Private Detective Spenser takes the job. It's just the kind of funky job that interests him. But when the police report turns up missing the critical FBI report, Senser suspects that there is more to the case than a simple bank robbery. When both mob and FBI enforcers warn him to back off the job, he knows that something is rotten, but he still can't get to the bottom of the case. Along with muscle from side-kick Hawk and wise philosophical advice and frequent sex from main-squeeze Susan Silverman, Spenser sets off on a case that won't bring in any money, can't result in a happy ending for anyone, and just might end up getting him, or Susan, killed.

    Author Robert B. Parker (see more reviews of novels by Parker) uses witty dialogue, occasional literary illusion, and male-bonding between Spenser and Hawk to propell the story forward. Fortunately for the reader, Susan is allowed to play a minor (if annoying) role in this story providing emotional support to Spenser and validating the killing that this job requires him to make. After two decades of Spenser stories, Spenser seems little older and is still a tough guy that remembers and uses his boxing skills.

    Parker's characterization, dialogue, and story-telling are all firing in BACK STORY. Although I found the end to be a bit anticlimactic, BACK STORY is one of the better recent Spenser novels.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 6/20/03

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