It was Spenser, though — spelled “like the poet,” as the character was wont to point out (his first name was never revealed) — who was Mr. Parker’s signature creation. He appeared for the first time in 1973 in “The Godwulf Manuscript,” in which he is hired by a university to retrieve a stolen medieval document, an investigation that triggers a murder. The first pages of the book revealed much of what readers came to love about Spenser — his impatience with pomposity, his smart-alecky wit, his self-awareness and supreme self-confidence.
“Look, Dr. Forbes,” Spenser says to the long-winded college president who is hiring him. “I went to college once. I don’t wear my hat indoors. And if a clue comes along and bites me on the ankle, I grab it. I am not, however, an Oxford don. I am a private detective. Is there something you’d like me to detect, or are you just polishing up your elocution for next year’s commencement?”
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Robert B. Parker
Mystery writer Robert B. Parker has died at age 77. Parker wrote over 60 books, including 37 novels about a Boston P.I. named Spenser. I started reading Spenser books in high school and I've read almost all of them; Parker's writing gets more mannered as the years go by but there's a wonderful humor and a sense of knowing what to expect from the characters. The Ed Harris Western Appaloosa was also based on a Parker novel. My favorite entries in the Spenser series are here, here, and here.