I review the book Lullaby, part of the Spenser series by the late Robert Parker; this one was written by Ace Atkins.
At the start of Lullaby, Spenser is sitting in his office when a 14 year old girl enters, asking him to investigate the murder of her mother 4 years earlier. This girl, Mattie, is a new addition to the Spenser series, and she is a powerful and interesting character. Living with her alcoholic grandmother in the projects in Southie, she is struggling hard to help raise her two younger sisters. She’s both tough and vulnerable; altogether one of the most interesting of Spenser’s clients in a long time.
Lullaby by Ace Atkins is a continuation of the Spenser series of detective novels that was wrtten by the late Robert Parker. One issue I have with this book is that the cover has Robert Parker’s name in larger letters than the actual author’s (Ace Atkins). Robert Parker did not write this book. Ace Atkins is a fine writer, but he is not Robert Parker (although the Parker estate did choose him to continue the series).
That said, Lullaby is a pretty good imitation of Robert Parker’s style. It’s not exactly right, but it’s very close.
The Spenser series features Spenser (surprise!) who is a private investigator in Boston. There is a fairly large cast of characters, including his inamorata Susan (a psychologist), his friend and associate Hawk, detective Martin Quirk, policeman Robert Belson, and bad guys (but allies of Spenser) including the shooter Vinnie and so on. There is constant repartee between Spenser and Hawk (as in the original series) it is in this repartee that I think Atkins succeeds least well (although he doesn’t do badly even here). Another thing that is typical of the series but not present here is the dialogue between Susan and Spenser about what love, what their relationship means, and so on. In this case, I think the change is for the better.
The plot zips right along. As usual, as Parker investigates what at first looks like a relatively simple crime he finds connections to various high- and low-level crime figures. These people do not like being asked about. They express their displeasure in violent ways and Spenser and Hawk react violently to them. In the end, the guilty get punished (but I won’t tell you who they are, that would spoil it). But Lullaby doesn’t sugar coat the ending; I admire that.
In short, Lullaby is an admirable extension of the Spenser series. If you like the series, you will like this.