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    Review of COLD SERVICE by Robert B. Parker


    G. P. Putnam's Sons, March 2005

    If someone shoots Hawk, then Hawk must get them back. If someone shoots Hawk when he's guarding someone, and then goes on to kill that man, Hawk must destroy the entire organization--and make sure the man's surviving child makes money out of the deal. It goes to how Hawk defines himself. And Spenser needs to be there for Hawk, because that is how Spenser defines himself. The women in their lives, Susan Silverman for Spenser and Cecilia for Hawk can't really understand, but they do their best (and in the case of Susan, talk about it way too much), but they don't get in the way as Hawk and Spenser set out to destroy a Ukranian-led mob.

    Relying on help from Spenser's manly-man network, Hawk and Spenser soon learn who actually pulled the trigger, but discovering the motive is a bit more complicated. No more complicated than some strong-arm tactics can manage, though. Especially since the police, CIA, and Feds are busy pretending to know nothing and see nothing as Spenser and Hawk put their revenge plan into operation.

    Over the years, the Spenser novels have become something of a caricature of their earlier self. From dealing with complex moral issues, they pretty much now come down to the question of what it means to be a man. Fortunately, this is a pretty interesting and valid question, although the answer that author Robert B. Parker (see more reviews of novels by Parker) comes up with won't satisfy everyone. Still, Parker's strong and fast-paced writing kept me glued to the pages and made this a one-sitting read (the large print and plentiful white space helped as well).

    I don't especially like the notion that it's all right to just go in and shoot up people, even criminals, because you want to or because it makes you a man. But that doesn't mean that Parker isn't still one of the best mystery writers out there. COLD SERVICE is a compelling story--even if you end up very happy indeed that you don't have friends like Spenser--or a girlfriend like Susan Silverman.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 5/26/05

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