View Full Version : Cold Service -- Robert B. Parker

12-04-2006, 09:45 AM
To be fair to the author, I bought the book as something of a litmus test against my own WIP. I wanted to see where my narrative worked and did not work against a much better author (who graduated with a Ph.D in English from Boston University).

In reading "Cold Service," I already had images in my head from the ABC television series with Robert Urich and Avery Brooks playing the lead roles. In that sense, my view of the book was tainted. But not really. I'm fairly open-minded and can divded my media; the book world and the Tv world are two entirely different places.

Synopsis: Spenser's sidekick Hawk is shot. A lot. He spends a lot of time recouperating and, as you might expect, wanst revenge on whoever shot him. As it turns out, it's a group of Ukranian mobsters. They are moving into new territory. So, Hawk must figure out how to bag the Ukranians and keep the balance within the Boston mob. Neither Hawk nor Spenser wants to die, either.

So, here's the review: I enjoyed reading. The pace is slow initially. The reader is treated to some interesting back story that I believe needs more context. You're told a lot about Hawk and his recovery. You're also introduced to a love interest that needs some other context for her to make sense. That is, if you picked up another Spenser book, maybe it would make more sense (not that it doesn't; it does. It just leaves you hanging for more).

Also, I didn't see this as a mystery. Everything's in the open for you to see. As the reader, you're watching mostly to see if Hawk and Spenser can succeed. This bothered me. i wanted to get to the endo f the book and go, "Ah ha!" However, I didn't get that, though there were clever moments.

Parker's dialogue is fantastic and, as Wikipedia points out, Parker does know Boston like the back of his hand. The hardcover of this hit stores in March 2005. The paperback in 2006. So, this is an older read.

I wanted more Spenser. Instead, he's the floating observer in this one. There's a lot of Hawk, which is fine. He's a multi-dimensional character, for sure. In this, however, he is single-minded.

The next book I have is called "Blind" by Matthew Farrer. It's a book written specifically for the Warhammer 40,000 genre. So, far, pretty good.

v/r, jt

01-14-2007, 07:39 PM
I no longer try to read every Spenser novel, but I usually enjoy them enough. This one sounds so atypical I'm not sure I would.

Do you read the series, and if so, do you find this one engaging in the same way? While I like Hawk a lot (and always envision Avery Brooks, but not Robert Urich as Spenser), I'm not sold on a book where he's the focus. Readers of series have certain expectations of each book in it, and when the author shifts gears, it can be jarring, even if done well.

Maryn, who read School Days about a month ago

01-14-2007, 08:45 PM
I've never read anything else by Parker. I enjoyed the book. It has atmosphere, but it's too slow for my pace. I, too, hear Avery Brooks' voice, but could also see Michael Clarke Duncan in that role too. Urich was too pretty for Spenser. I'd like to have Willem Dafoe or someone more imperfect doing it.

Jason, who's home. No kidding.

01-15-2007, 04:52 AM
I re-read that so I could discuss it with you. But that was last week (or maybe the week before) and now I've forgotten. dang, Al

01-19-2007, 09:16 PM
I thought this was one of Parker's best books. It isn't slow, it just isn't filled with slam-bang action on every page. Few of the Spenser novels are, thank God.

Urich wasn't too pretty for Spenser, he was perfect. If you've never read most of the Spenser novels, you have no clue. Spenser is a man who draws immediate attention from all the women, and his own love, Susan Silverman, wouldn't fall for someone who wasn't handsome. William Dafoe wouldn't be any good at all as Spenser, and Susan Silverman wouldn't give him the time of day.

Spenser is not, in any way, a typical P.I. He's very intelligent, extremely well read, a master cook, and the kind of man beautiful women swoon over. He's a P.I. because it's his nature, not because he's limited by intellect or anything else.

The books do all have a mystery element, but they're more crime novels than straight mysteries. And they're among the more literary novels out there.