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God Save The Child

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Appie Knoll is the kind of suburb where kids grow up right. But something is wrong. Fourteen-year-old Kevin Bartlett disappears. Everyone thinks he's run away -- until the comic strip ransom note arrives.  It doesn't take Spenser long to get the picture -- an affluent family seething with rage, a desperate boy making strange friends...friends like Vic Harroway, body builde Appie Knoll is the kind of suburb where kids grow up right. But something is wrong. Fourteen-year-old Kevin Bartlett disappears. Everyone thinks he's run away -- until the comic strip ransom note arrives.  It doesn't take Spenser long to get the picture -- an affluent family seething with rage, a desperate boy making strange friends...friends like Vic Harroway, body builder. Mr. Muscle is Spenser's only lead and he isn't talking...except with his fists. But when push comes to shove, when a boy's life is on the line, Spenser can speak that language too.


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Appie Knoll is the kind of suburb where kids grow up right. But something is wrong. Fourteen-year-old Kevin Bartlett disappears. Everyone thinks he's run away -- until the comic strip ransom note arrives.  It doesn't take Spenser long to get the picture -- an affluent family seething with rage, a desperate boy making strange friends...friends like Vic Harroway, body builde Appie Knoll is the kind of suburb where kids grow up right. But something is wrong. Fourteen-year-old Kevin Bartlett disappears. Everyone thinks he's run away -- until the comic strip ransom note arrives.  It doesn't take Spenser long to get the picture -- an affluent family seething with rage, a desperate boy making strange friends...friends like Vic Harroway, body builder. Mr. Muscle is Spenser's only lead and he isn't talking...except with his fists. But when push comes to shove, when a boy's life is on the line, Spenser can speak that language too.

30 review for God Save The Child

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    This second entry in the Spenser series is a good one, featuring an interesting plot, vivid characters and scenes, and the introduction of school psychologist Susan Silverman, Spenser's perennial lover and friend. Spenser is hired by the Bartletts to find their missing son Kevin. At first, Spenser figures Kevin may be just a runaway--after all, the Barletts are parents any self-respecting high school sophomore would want to escape from—but then, the ransom note for $50,000 arrives. Still Spenser This second entry in the Spenser series is a good one, featuring an interesting plot, vivid characters and scenes, and the introduction of school psychologist Susan Silverman, Spenser's perennial lover and friend. Spenser is hired by the Bartletts to find their missing son Kevin. At first, Spenser figures Kevin may be just a runaway--after all, the Barletts are parents any self-respecting high school sophomore would want to escape from—but then, the ransom note for $50,000 arrives. Still Spenser has doubts. The kidnapper's communications seem flip, unprofessional (one of the them is a hand-drawn cartoon!)--as if this were some kind of a joke. But then there is a murder, and it becomes clear that the kidnapping—although possibly a prank—is definitely no laughing matter. There are memorable characters here, particularly the self-dramatizing mother Marge Barlett, the self-important Sherriff Trask, the body-builder Harroway, and the eminent, enigmatic Dr. Croft. There are good scenes here too: Spenser and Susan's visit to a semi-criminal commune, the Barlett's drunken evening party, and the climax, where Spenser beats a man to a pulp for a very Spenserian moral reason. Unlike many of her later appearances, Susan Silverman is an asset to God Save the Child. When Spenser first sees her, he tells us that she “wasn't beautiful, but there was a tangibility about her, a physical reality that made [her] secretary with the lime green bosom seem insubstantial.” Her character talks and acts like a real woman, something not that common in the hard-boiled books of the '70's. Even more important, though, she allows our hero Spenser to show us his sensitivity and vulnerability, sides he would never have revealed to us so intimately on his own.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kemper

    Spenser goes to a gay bar circa 1974. Wacky hijinks ensue. God Save the Child is the second book of the Spenser series, and it’s probably most notable for the introduction of Susan Silverman, the woman who will become Spenser’s long-time girlfriend and eventually the center of his world. Since the Spenser and Susan angle would become the focus of the later books at the expense of the overall quality of the series, it’s easy to Susan-bash, but re-reading her introduction and the start of their rom Spenser goes to a gay bar circa 1974. Wacky hijinks ensue. God Save the Child is the second book of the Spenser series, and it’s probably most notable for the introduction of Susan Silverman, the woman who will become Spenser’s long-time girlfriend and eventually the center of his world. Since the Spenser and Susan angle would become the focus of the later books at the expense of the overall quality of the series, it’s easy to Susan-bash, but re-reading her introduction and the start of their romance, I remembered that their chemistry was one of the main draws of the early books and helped keep Spenser from being just another Marlowe knock-off. It was entertaining to go back to their initial meeting, and the first date where Spenser prepares one his trademark gourmet dinners only to realize after the fact that he just served pork to a Jewish woman, and the second date where work causes him to be very late and Susan is understandably miffed. This is Spenser and Susan as actual human beings attracted to each other, not boring soul-mates with no issues in their relationship. This story revolves around a missing 16 year old boy. The kid’s home life was a mess with a selfish drunk for a mother and a weak father, and this book establishes a pattern where Spenser usually won’t like the people who hire him very much. When the case takes a turn into kidnapping and then murder, Spenser zeroes in on a gay weightlifter named Vic Halloway as a key suspect. Vic has a taste for young men, so I was worried that this book written in '74 was going to read like a ‘homosexual-as-pervert/villain-scenario’ in 2010, but Parker avoided that trap by portraying Vic as outcast and disliked by the gay community for his tastes. Another gay character dismisses him as the kind of guy who would go after teen-age female virgins if he was straight. In other words, Vic is a douche bag who just happens to be gay. There’s a few cringe-worthy comments and jokes from other characters, and there is a questionable scene of Spenser in a gay bar and getting hit on, but by and large, Parker acquits himself pretty well in dealing with gay culture during an era when the word ‘fag’ was still in common usage. This one also starts to establish a bit of Spenser’s macho code that’d become a larger part of the series, and since this is early Spenser, Parker still has him capable of making mistakes. And he makes a doozy at the end of this one, which was refreshing to read after years of Spenser being near perfect. Next up: Spenser takes in a ball game in Mortal Stakes

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    I enjoyed this one more than the first of the series. It feels like Parker is getting comfortable with the style and his main character. The plot was adequately twisty. I'll definitely be moving on to #3.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marty Fried

    More of the same from Spenser in this book, with lots of wisecracking, flirting, and a little fighting. The usual fun, it seems. The story was interesting, with a few twists toward the end, and the solution was not obvious. It went quickly, and I was done before I started, almost.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nate

    More wall-to-wall Spenser goodness. This one was an investigation into a missing kid as opposed to the missing manuscript of the first novel and it had plenty of twists and turns, even if some of them might be easy to see coming by seasoned mystery readers. Spenser remains a ton of fun to hang out with and his charmingly awkward relationship with Susan was interesting (the part where he freaks out about serving pork to a Jewish woman was funny and seemed true-to-life). I also absolutely loved (v More wall-to-wall Spenser goodness. This one was an investigation into a missing kid as opposed to the missing manuscript of the first novel and it had plenty of twists and turns, even if some of them might be easy to see coming by seasoned mystery readers. Spenser remains a ton of fun to hang out with and his charmingly awkward relationship with Susan was interesting (the part where he freaks out about serving pork to a Jewish woman was funny and seemed true-to-life). I also absolutely loved (view spoiler)[the beatdown Spenser hands out at the end of the book. Utter badassery and also easy to root for due to the David-and-Goliath aspect. Sometimes it’s hard to feel triumph when a fellow PI of Spenser's like 6’5” 250-lb Jack Reacher crushes some little guy’s throat. (hide spoiler)]

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    PROTAGONIST: Spenser, PI SETTING: Boston SERIES: #2 RATING: 3.5 WHY: Roger and Margery Bartlett hire PI Spenser when their 13-year-old son, Kevin, goes missing. After seeing how dysfunctional the family relationships are, Spenser wonders whether the boy ran away or was kidnapped. Kevin was infatuated with an older man, Vic Harroway, who appeared to be a sexual predator. Parker excels at descriptive writing—the characters and settings are very visual. This book introduces his romantic interest, Susan PROTAGONIST: Spenser, PI SETTING: Boston SERIES: #2 RATING: 3.5 WHY: Roger and Margery Bartlett hire PI Spenser when their 13-year-old son, Kevin, goes missing. After seeing how dysfunctional the family relationships are, Spenser wonders whether the boy ran away or was kidnapped. Kevin was infatuated with an older man, Vic Harroway, who appeared to be a sexual predator. Parker excels at descriptive writing—the characters and settings are very visual. This book introduces his romantic interest, Susan Silverman. Their repartee is clever, but I could have done without all her psychobabble.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Krissy

    The mystery aspect was meh. But Spenser is just so snarky he makes the story entertaining. Favorite quote: "If at first you don't succeed, to hell with it."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    Kevin Bartlett has been kidnapped and it's up to Spenser to find him. But was he really kidnapped in the first place... ? The second Spenser book picks weeks after the first left off and does a good job fleshing out Spenser's character a bit more. Susan Silverman is added to the supporting cast and will provide Spenser with a steady girlfriend for a long time to come from what I hear. The case itself was a little on the predictable side, although the drugs and pimping made it a little more comple Kevin Bartlett has been kidnapped and it's up to Spenser to find him. But was he really kidnapped in the first place... ? The second Spenser book picks weeks after the first left off and does a good job fleshing out Spenser's character a bit more. Susan Silverman is added to the supporting cast and will provide Spenser with a steady girlfriend for a long time to come from what I hear. The case itself was a little on the predictable side, although the drugs and pimping made it a little more complex. Spenser rose a few notches in my esteem in this outing. The Bartletts were well realized supporting characters, especially since they'll probably be one shots. I felt sorry for Roger and pitied his drunken slattern of a wife. After reading the first two Spenser books, I've noticed that Parker spends a fair bit of time describing Spenser's meal preparation. Not a gripe, just an observation. All things considered, I was quite pleased with God Save the Child and plan to nab the next one when I run across it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    The second Spenser book possesses a lot of what I liked about the early series: Spenser working on his own (before Hawk), tremendous descriptions of the world in which he works (as in the section on his first drive to Smithfield), sharp social commentary (all the better because it is not overt), a real relationship (it's the first book with Susan, who is a real character in it, not the caricature she becomes), and some hard-edged physicality (as in the fight with Vic Harroway). Spenser is, of co The second Spenser book possesses a lot of what I liked about the early series: Spenser working on his own (before Hawk), tremendous descriptions of the world in which he works (as in the section on his first drive to Smithfield), sharp social commentary (all the better because it is not overt), a real relationship (it's the first book with Susan, who is a real character in it, not the caricature she becomes), and some hard-edged physicality (as in the fight with Vic Harroway). Spenser is, of course, funny; maybe funnier, in fact, than later. His ability to let the air out of gasbags is highly developed. The actual case—a kidnapping—is interesting enough, and provides a platform for the social commentary (see the cocktail party at Rog and Marge's house). All in all, it ranksfavorably with another early case that involved both kidnapping and social commentary: "Promised Land."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jane Stewart

    Weak 3 stars. Just ok. My mind wandered at times. Other books in the series are better. The plot was not well developed. I wanted a better understanding of the son’s motivations and why certain bad guys were working together. Someone is killed in the end. I wanted more details about that. And I was annoyed with the ending. It was incomplete. This is book 2 in the series. Here Spenser meets Susan who is a high school guidance counselor. Susan continues as Spenser’s love interest in future books. The Weak 3 stars. Just ok. My mind wandered at times. Other books in the series are better. The plot was not well developed. I wanted a better understanding of the son’s motivations and why certain bad guys were working together. Someone is killed in the end. I wanted more details about that. And I was annoyed with the ending. It was incomplete. This is book 2 in the series. Here Spenser meets Susan who is a high school guidance counselor. Susan continues as Spenser’s love interest in future books. The narrator Michael Prichard was very good. DATA: Narrative mode: 1st person Spenser. Unabridged audiobook length: 5 hrs and 3 mins (154 pages). Swearing language: Probably mild. I don’t recall much. Sexual language: none. Number of sex scenes: one, briefly referred to no details shown. Setting: around 1974 Massachusetts. Book copyright: 1974. Genre: PI mystery.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    A buddy of mine in Boston (sorry, Standells, it is my home) turned me onto this book in the mid 80s. I completely forgot about it, but all the recent discussion concerning Dennis Lehane's Moonlight Mile (hey, Will!) got me thinking about Boston-related crime books and this came floating up from the cesspool of remembrance. The late Robert B Parker does a great job of capturing the essence of The Hub in this story. I'm not going to rehash the plot here, but I will say that Parker's writing moves A buddy of mine in Boston (sorry, Standells, it is my home) turned me onto this book in the mid 80s. I completely forgot about it, but all the recent discussion concerning Dennis Lehane's Moonlight Mile (hey, Will!) got me thinking about Boston-related crime books and this came floating up from the cesspool of remembrance. The late Robert B Parker does a great job of capturing the essence of The Hub in this story. I'm not going to rehash the plot here, but I will say that Parker's writing moves right along, and the introduction of his perennial love interest, Susan Silverman, makes for great "sexual tension"that avoids cliché and tawdriness. I read a couple of his other books, but, for the life of me, I can't remember which ones. Oh well. I need to go back and start reading some more of these, including the recent ones written by Ace Atkins, no slouch in his own right. Roll Tide!

  12. 4 out of 5

    James Joyce

    It was okay. I like the character of Spenser and I like the writing style. I just wish it wasn't quite so... inevitable. Nothing much happens, and what does happen is marred by the fact that we already know who has the boy and whether or not he's in any danger. So it's all about Spenser, instead. As I say, I like the character, but I'd rather see him in adversity, than just doing the daily routine. Ho-hum, another day, another nothing-much-happening. I'm sure I'll eventually get around to the next It was okay. I like the character of Spenser and I like the writing style. I just wish it wasn't quite so... inevitable. Nothing much happens, and what does happen is marred by the fact that we already know who has the boy and whether or not he's in any danger. So it's all about Spenser, instead. As I say, I like the character, but I'd rather see him in adversity, than just doing the daily routine. Ho-hum, another day, another nothing-much-happening. I'm sure I'll eventually get around to the next in the series. I expect it to get much better, because of reputation, alone. But I'm not feverish about it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Lombardo

    Spenser has become my favorite character. Funny, Tough, and pretty bad ass.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Hana

    Oh the joys of Robert Parker, Spenser and Seventies fashion. She was probably older than she looked and not as heavy. Her legs were very slim, the kind women admire and men don't. They made her plumpish upper body look heavier. Her face had a bland, spoiled, pretty look, carefully made up with eye shadow and pancake makeup and false eyelashes. She looked as though if she cried she'd erode. Her hair, freshly blond, was cut close around her face. Gaminelike, I bet her hairdresser said. Mia Farrow, Oh the joys of Robert Parker, Spenser and Seventies fashion. She was probably older than she looked and not as heavy. Her legs were very slim, the kind women admire and men don't. They made her plumpish upper body look heavier. Her face had a bland, spoiled, pretty look, carefully made up with eye shadow and pancake makeup and false eyelashes. She looked as though if she cried she'd erode. Her hair, freshly blond, was cut close around her face. Gaminelike, I bet her hairdresser said. Mia Farrow, I bet he said. She was wearing a paisley caftan slit up the side and black ankle-strapped platform shoes with three-inch soles and heels.Spenser doesn't spare hubbie, either. He was dressed in what must have been his wife's idea of the contemporary look. You can usually tell when a guy's wife buys his clothes. He had on baggy white cuffed flares, a solid scarlet shirt with long collar points, a wide pink tie and a red-and-white-plaid seersucker jacket with wide lapels and the waist nipped. A prefolded hankerchief in his breast pocket matched the tie. He had on black and white saddle shoes and looked as happy as a hound in a doggie sweater.Can this marriage be saved? Probably not. Can their runaway son be found? If anyone can do it, it's Spenser. But what if the boy doesn't want to be found? All the usual Spenser pleasures: Boston setting, snappy dialog, moral dilemmas and Spenser cooking dinner for Susan Silverman on their first date (pork tenderloin en croute!)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julie Davis

    More vintage Parker as we see inside a very dysfunctional family whose teenage son is missing. Now that enough time has elapsed since it was published in 1974, Spenser's detailed observations also serve as a time capsule of clothing, food, attitudes, and problems. Not that the problems have changed that much, which is also worthy of reflection. This is the book where Susan Silverman, the love of Spenser's life, is introduced. I'd forgotten that she showed up this early in the series. I was never c More vintage Parker as we see inside a very dysfunctional family whose teenage son is missing. Now that enough time has elapsed since it was published in 1974, Spenser's detailed observations also serve as a time capsule of clothing, food, attitudes, and problems. Not that the problems have changed that much, which is also worthy of reflection. This is the book where Susan Silverman, the love of Spenser's life, is introduced. I'd forgotten that she showed up this early in the series. I was never crazy about Susan the way that Spenser is but rereading this after such a long time I can see that she is interesting, funny, perceptive, and a good addition to this book. She acts as a nice foil, coming from a psychologically based background, and definitely makes Spenser a more well rounded, interesting person (though most of that becomes more apparent in upcoming books so I'm jumping the gun a bit). I also appreciated the fact that Parker leaves the possibility of redemption for some of the most dysfunctional characters, as well as the tentative beginning of positive change. As with The Godwulf Manuscript, once again I remembered the big solution and had forgotten most of the intervening action and intertwined mysteries. Experiencing it again "for the first time" it came off much better than when I first read it (or perhaps that is my more mature appreciation coming through).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jerry B

    We’re slowly knocking off the original 39-book Spenser set, about a third of the way through; and concentrating recently on the early entries, of which “Child” is just the second outing. It is possibly more notable for the introduction and budding romance between our hero and Susan Silverman, their relationship a staple, indeed often a dominating factor, in later novels. {No Hawk yet!} In the plot, Spenser is hired to assist the family after the kidnapping of teenager Kevin Bartlett, but suspects We’re slowly knocking off the original 39-book Spenser set, about a third of the way through; and concentrating recently on the early entries, of which “Child” is just the second outing. It is possibly more notable for the introduction and budding romance between our hero and Susan Silverman, their relationship a staple, indeed often a dominating factor, in later novels. {No Hawk yet!} In the plot, Spenser is hired to assist the family after the kidnapping of teenager Kevin Bartlett, but suspects not all is as it should be in this tale of Boston suburbia. Some interesting developments involving gay relationships (probably at least somewhat “taboo” back in 1987) surface, which we feel Parker treated pretty well given the nearly 30 years having passed since publication. As usual, Spenser prevails in solving the whole matter and dispensing sometimes his own brand of justice – as usual, making for an adequately entertaining story.

  17. 5 out of 5

    M.

    I use to read a ton of detective mystery novels in my younger days. Today there are a lot of modern authors writing in this genre but many of them are just a little too graphic in the violence department. Parker was writing in the early 70’s and the violence is handled with a more gentle hand. I enjoyed the first book and this one was pretty good also. Spenser is the quintessential smart ass PI and he makes a nice addition to my available book picks.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Yoak

    As often happens, the character is becoming more stable as of the second novel and becoming more natural. The mystery is a good one and I'm finding a like Spenser a lot. I'm not yet sure he'll be another Travis McGee, but he's on his way.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amanda McGill

    I'm having trouble getting into this series, and I just can't connect with it. I would much rather read Parker's Jesse Stone series. A teenage boy has been missing for a few days and his parents believe he is kidnapped. Spenser believes the boy has run away, but a ransom note shows up and demands $50,000. I may stick out this series for a few more books, but so far it just isn't for me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    IslandRiverScribe

    This second entry in Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series is quite different from the first. The novel is still written in the early 1970’s about a group of people living in that same time frame. However, this time the story centers on a crime involving a child. The 15-year-old son of an affluent building contractor has disappeared and Spenser is hired by the parents to locate him. The father is a hard-working soul that is saddled with an angry, promiscuous and narcissistic wife and Spenser’s early This second entry in Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series is quite different from the first. The novel is still written in the early 1970’s about a group of people living in that same time frame. However, this time the story centers on a crime involving a child. The 15-year-old son of an affluent building contractor has disappeared and Spenser is hired by the parents to locate him. The father is a hard-working soul that is saddled with an angry, promiscuous and narcissistic wife and Spenser’s early findings lead to a run-away situation. Then a ransom note, in the form of a comic strip, arrives and the situation takes on an entirely different urgency. Spenser is one of the most hilarious – and honest – protagonists that I have encountered in the mysteries and thrillers genre. His command of quick repartee, innuendo, sarcasm and snark is absolutely marvelous. Add in the fact that the story is from his first person POV and you can quickly forget that this is not a spoof or a cozy, but a card-carrying entry in the hard-boiled genre. And his encounters with women, whether from a point of observation only, in person, or on a date don’t help with the genre image either. In today’s vernacular, Spenser would be described by the phrase, “He is such a guy!” For example, when Spenser’s first date with Susan Silverman slips into the “hot and heavy” stage, Susan slows things down, promising a different ending on their next date. Now remembering that Spenser is 37 years old in this novel, the reader is treated with the following exchange as Spenser closes the door behind Susan: “I breathed as much air as I could into my lungs and let it out very slowly. Next time, I thought. Tuesday night. Dinner at her house. Hot dog!” And if you think that, by the time Spenser is saying, “Hot diggity-dog!” that Parker is going to write a sweep-her-off-her-feet, hot, steamy, sophisticated seduction scene, just think again. By the time Spenser and Susan hit the sheets, you will be rolling your eyes, shaking your head and remembering every embarrassing moment of like kind you have ever had. And the scene is that way, not because Parker can’t write a romantic interlude, but because that just wouldn’t be Spenser. Now, Parker may write Spenser with a quick wit and a healthy libido, but he also writes Spenser with a quick gun hand, a strong left hook and a sense of responsibility. And before the story ends, the bad guys will go down but in a manner very unlike that of current mystery and thriller novels. Don’t forget, he’s no longer a cop and no longer has to play by those rules. For those readers who were born during or after the 1970’s, this novel may seem dated or silly, and those readers may not be able to accept that crime scene procedures were as lax as portrayed. I mean, could you believe that a couple would be able to give a party for 65 people in their home less than 6 hours after a person was killed in their dining room? With today’s laws, that couldn’t happen. But this isn’t now, it’s then, and the laws back then were still in the stage of “make sure the body falls inside your threshold before you call the cops.” Well, I was in my 20’s when this novel was written, and I remember those days, both legally and morally. Now, I was never upper middle class like the people in this novel, but I taught their children. I remember that they dressed just like Parker dressed them, and I remember the level of self-absorption many displayed, just like Parker detailed. I remember the same open attitudes toward sex and booze that Parker described. And just like the character of Kevin that Parker used in this novel, I remember their hurt and angry and lonely teenagers. Robert B. Parker may not have written this novel as a social commentary at the time, but 40 years later, it most certainly is.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Solid case. Not the best but still entertaining. First I thought Spenser was too much of a narcissist but it turned out he has qualities. It's definitely an improvement over the first novel, but I still don't think Parker hit his stride with this one.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    My only complaint when I started reading Robert Parker's 'Spenser' series came in the first book, "The Godwulf Manuscript" when Spenser, crossing a college quad, described in great detail the clothing of several students he passed. For nearly two pages Parker shared the early seventies fashion to be found on a college campus, displayed by characters without names or purpose or bearing in any way on the story at all, and when I started the second book in the series, "God Save the Child", it seeme My only complaint when I started reading Robert Parker's 'Spenser' series came in the first book, "The Godwulf Manuscript" when Spenser, crossing a college quad, described in great detail the clothing of several students he passed. For nearly two pages Parker shared the early seventies fashion to be found on a college campus, displayed by characters without names or purpose or bearing in any way on the story at all, and when I started the second book in the series, "God Save the Child", it seemed I was in for more of the same. Maybe it was that this was the second book and with that came a growing appreciation or familiarity with Parker's writing style, but I started to understand why this was the case and why it had to be. Spenser narrates these stories and he's as clever and sharp-witted as any private detective from the days of Chandler and Hammett, and big enough to get away with having a smart mouth if the guys he's mouthing off to can keep up and realize he's insulting them. But where Parker goes into exhaustingly more detail then the classics of detective fiction is less about sloppy or tedious writing. In order to put us in his detective's shoes, he has to also put us in his detective's head. It took Spenser just about explaining this to his love interest in "God Save the Child" for me to understand as well, so I clearly don't make a very good detective. Spenser, on the other hand, is good at what he does specifically because he notices and remembers everything. He sees a person's shoes and remembers their pants, the color of socks and shirt and jacket, the cut and color of hair and whether the glasses were prescription or just for show, and whether they matched the rest of the outfit as well; and he does this for every person he passes, everyone he comes across from the moment he meets a client because any one of these people may be a part of his case, and he may need that information later. Spenser isn't a hero or a supercop or some action star. He's just the guy working a small-time case trying to figure out where someone or something went and whether it needed to be returned once he found it. In the course of this he'll tell you what he made for breakfast and describe his workout routine, and you might even be able to cook a pork tenderloin en croûte if you pay attention. Robert Parker understands that this is tedious work, undertaken by the kind of man willing to notice details and keep each and every one of them tucked away for the moment he will need to put those pieces together the right way. From an author's perspective, to realistically write such a tedious undertaking itself needs to become tedious. This writing and narrative style that at first turned me off of Robert Parker is precisely what takes the reader more completely into the world and mind of a private detective than any author has before. He does this not by hinting at the details the reader should remember or teasing the threads that will be important later, but by immersing the audience in the overwhelming detail of the world and letting them sift through to identify the important parts alongside the narrator. It's this style that makes the Spenser series so intriguing, and interesting to continue reading.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nanosynergy

    Spenser is hired to find 14 year old Kevin Bartlett who has disappeared from his affluent suburban home. It is assumed he has run away given he has taken his pet guinea pig with him. He also may very well be trying to flee his dysfunctional family. Kevin's father is a never-home workaholic (perhaps in an attempt to avoid his wife) and his mother is a narcissist who aspires to be an actress and is apparently sleeping around. But then his parents receive an odd, cartoon ransom note, his mother's l Spenser is hired to find 14 year old Kevin Bartlett who has disappeared from his affluent suburban home. It is assumed he has run away given he has taken his pet guinea pig with him. He also may very well be trying to flee his dysfunctional family. Kevin's father is a never-home workaholic (perhaps in an attempt to avoid his wife) and his mother is a narcissist who aspires to be an actress and is apparently sleeping around. But then his parents receive an odd, cartoon ransom note, his mother's life is threatened, and the body of the dead guinea pig shows up in their mail. Spenser discovers the boy has been befriended by Vic Harroway, an extreme body builder (from the descriptions). Harroway is also gay and possibly engaged in pimping out young men and women, as well as illegal drug selling. This book is both very dated (1970s clothes and attitudes) yet modern. What police investigation these days allows a dinner party in the living room crime scene just hours after the Bartlett family attorney is found murdered there (and is the cold dismissal of his death a statement on attitudes about lawyers). However, Parker also includes a gay character (Harroway), yet doesn't quite go over the edge into the attitudes of the 70's. Spenser even goes into a gay bar. But I kept waiting for someone to be concerned that an adult (male or female) might be having a sexual relationship with an underage minor middle schooler. And, of course, almost in Reacher fashion, ex-boxer Spenser takes down the hulk Harroway in a mano a mano fight with the goal to free Kevin from his misguided hero worship of Harroway. Finally, per others' reviews I have read, this book introduces the school counselor Susan Silverman character who will become is long-time love interest in the series.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Abbey

    1974, #2 Spenser, Boston and suburbs; classic PI. Solid PI story, only Parker's second Spenser novel, centering around a troubled suburban family and their teenaged son who has run away. Covers what is now very familiar ground, but when I first read it in 1975 it was somewhat shocking; on rereading it's still entertaining, but has aged badly. Kevin Bartlett is 14, and has taken up with some odd, and possibly dangerous, folks, mainly a bodybuilder named Vic who has many disreputable sidelines. Hi 1974, #2 Spenser, Boston and suburbs; classic PI. Solid PI story, only Parker's second Spenser novel, centering around a troubled suburban family and their teenaged son who has run away. Covers what is now very familiar ground, but when I first read it in 1975 it was somewhat shocking; on rereading it's still entertaining, but has aged badly. Kevin Bartlett is 14, and has taken up with some odd, and possibly dangerous, folks, mainly a bodybuilder named Vic who has many disreputable sidelines. His upper-middle-class suburban mother and father hire Spenser to find him and bring him back home, and as Spenser tries to do so he comes across blackmail, prostitution, drug use, coercion of varying strengths and styles, and a lovely lady. This is the first appearance of Susan Silverman, the guidance counselor at Kevin's school, and Spenser's lady-love; while some of her habits and quirks become annoying further down the line in the series, in this first appearance she's simply nice, beautiful, and funny, a good match for Spenser. Has a sharply etched portrait of a wild suburban lifestyle of the mid-1970s, with its freewheeling sex and lots of booze. Overall a decent plot, good characters, and some funny lines. The ending is a bit cute, but not overwhelmingly so. Entertaining.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Spenser is hired to find a young boy named Kevin Bartlett. His parents believe he ran away until a kidnapping ransome arrives. But the whole ransome set-up seems odd to Spenser and state cop, Healy. It becomes even stranger when a man turns up dead inside the Bartlett home. In his quest to find Kevin, Spenser meets Susan Silverman, a counselor at Kevin's school. Sparks start to fly. I loved this novel. Marge Bartlett, a self-centered superficial woman, made such a fine target for Spenser's sarcas Spenser is hired to find a young boy named Kevin Bartlett. His parents believe he ran away until a kidnapping ransome arrives. But the whole ransome set-up seems odd to Spenser and state cop, Healy. It becomes even stranger when a man turns up dead inside the Bartlett home. In his quest to find Kevin, Spenser meets Susan Silverman, a counselor at Kevin's school. Sparks start to fly. I loved this novel. Marge Bartlett, a self-centered superficial woman, made such a fine target for Spenser's sarcastic wit. Yet, Parker balances the female characters with Silverman, an intelligent woman concerned with peoples's thoughts and feelings. Race is also an awesome character. His banter with Spenser is fun. Trask made a great foil for Spenser and I'm wondering if we'll see him again. While I didn't predict the entire end, there were parts I suspected. It was still great, nonetheless.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chuck

    56 out of 100 for 2010. The Spenser and Susan Silverman make, I think, one of the great literary couples. Over the 35 plus years and I don't know how many novels that their romance unfolds, both help the other become who they are. This novel, the second in the Spenser series, is the one where Spenser meets Susan. Of course, it's secondary to the plot of the book, but it makes the book worth reading for that. Spenser is hired to find a young man named Kevin, who has run away from home. No one has be 56 out of 100 for 2010. The Spenser and Susan Silverman make, I think, one of the great literary couples. Over the 35 plus years and I don't know how many novels that their romance unfolds, both help the other become who they are. This novel, the second in the Spenser series, is the one where Spenser meets Susan. Of course, it's secondary to the plot of the book, but it makes the book worth reading for that. Spenser is hired to find a young man named Kevin, who has run away from home. No one has been able to find him; as Spenser gets to know the parents, he understands why Kevin ran away (what will become a fairly familiar plot device in the books). Much more is going on, and the police, doctors, and criminals in Smithfield are a bit too cozy. Spense is able to, eventually, get all straightened out and save Kevin. The novel also introduces Belsen, a Mass. State detective who will become prominent in the series. No Hawk.

  27. 5 out of 5

    William

    (The word "maroon" appears twice in this novel) Slow start, sharp dialogue, uneven pacing in the first 2/3. Some pleasant budding romance with Susan. Very strange, repulsive ideas about sex with teens. Holy crap, was the world really like that in the 1970s? A few good quotes and some nice insights on human nature etc. All-in-all, adequate Spenser. I hope the next one's better. Notes- 58.0% ... Parker's description of 1974 clothing fashion etc is both horrific and nostalgic.... .... Ummmm. No, not n (The word "maroon" appears twice in this novel) Slow start, sharp dialogue, uneven pacing in the first 2/3. Some pleasant budding romance with Susan. Very strange, repulsive ideas about sex with teens. Holy crap, was the world really like that in the 1970s? A few good quotes and some nice insights on human nature etc. All-in-all, adequate Spenser. I hope the next one's better. Notes- 58.0% ... Parker's description of 1974 clothing fashion etc is both horrific and nostalgic.... .... Ummmm. No, not nostalgic." 12.0% ... horrifying attitudes in those days. Spenser is 39? ... "She must have been thirteen or fourteen and was just beginning to get a figure. I was very careful not to lech at her. There has to be a line you won’t cross, and my lower limit is arbitrarily set at sixteen."

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jakalak

    Robert B. Parker has a way with words. Although I occasionally get tired of hearing what every character is wearing every single day (hello '70's fashion!), I like how he describes the setting so richly and how he never fails to adroitly capture Spenser's very specific brand of wise-assery. That said, the mystery in this one was not quite as satisfying as it could have been. Some of the motivations behind what the characters were doing was interesting, but certain aspects of the resolution were i Robert B. Parker has a way with words. Although I occasionally get tired of hearing what every character is wearing every single day (hello '70's fashion!), I like how he describes the setting so richly and how he never fails to adroitly capture Spenser's very specific brand of wise-assery. That said, the mystery in this one was not quite as satisfying as it could have been. Some of the motivations behind what the characters were doing was interesting, but certain aspects of the resolution were incomplete or illogical. When I got to the last page of the ebook, I was literally confused as to where the next chapter was. That, to me, is the sign of an unacceptable number of loose ends.

  29. 5 out of 5

    John Devlin

    Only aware of Parker through the series with the late Robert Urich, The Child is hard to evaluate from today's perspective. many of the tropes Parker uses - the hard bitten, cooking obsessed, wise ass was done to death by those who followed, and the 70's milieu is almost quaint. I bought the first two of these along time ago and now that I've read them I can't say I'd read more. This is not a knock on Parker, but more on a genre that I've explored rather completely and don't feel holds much new i Only aware of Parker through the series with the late Robert Urich, The Child is hard to evaluate from today's perspective. many of the tropes Parker uses - the hard bitten, cooking obsessed, wise ass was done to death by those who followed, and the 70's milieu is almost quaint. I bought the first two of these along time ago and now that I've read them I can't say I'd read more. This is not a knock on Parker, but more on a genre that I've explored rather completely and don't feel holds much new in the way of plotting or characters.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Canavan

    ✭✭✭✭

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