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    Review of NOW AND THEN by Robert B. Parker (see his website)


    Putnam, October, 2007

    Spenser's client says he's sure his wife can't be having an affair, but people don't come to private detective Spenser unless they're pretty sure. And from Doherty's story, Spenser is pretty sure the woman is definitely straying. Which makes it tough on Spenser because the time when Susan Silverman strayed from him still leaves scars. Still, a private detective takes the jobs he's offered, and Spenser tracks down the errant woman--who, sure enough, is meeting another man. What Spenser doesn't expect, though, is that the woman's lover is asking questions--that he has the woman spying on her FBI agent husband.

    Spenser gives Doherty proof he can't argue with, but within a day, both Doherty and his wife are dead. It could be a murder/suicide, but that doesn't feel right to Spenser--especially as the wife was plugged by an assassin. Spenser's pretty sure the woman's lover is behind the murders, but he doesn't have proof. One thing for sure, he's not going to give up on this case--even though he no longer has a living client--until he's made sure someone pays.

    Author Robert B. Parker (see more reviews of novels by Parker) continues his Spenser series with an adventure that brings Hawk, along with a couple of other tough gunmen back to help Spenser create a kind of rough justice according to his own macho code. Parker's trademark dialogue had me smiling, even chuckling to myself. Spenser doesn't rely on his boxing skills the way he did in the early books in the series (maybe because he's not as young as he once was), but he manages to get at least one good punch in.

    Memories of Susan Silverman's affair, now many years in the past, color this entire novel, motivating Spenser to insist on creating his own form of justice, even after he had enough information to bring in the police. I find the Spenser/Silverman relationship to be a bit sacarine and precious--and stories, like this one, where that relationship plays a major part, suffer as a result.

    From a mystery perspective, I was happy to see Spenser actually detecting, tracking down witnesses, placing bugs, and interviewing the local police. The solution to the mystery, though, seemed a bit straightforward. I found myself waiting for the real twist, the time when I could say ah-ha, and was a bit disappointed that no such moment arrived.

    NOW AND THEN is a quick read. With big type and plenty of short-sentence dialogue, it's an easy book to read in a single sitting.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 1/29/08

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