An Appreciation by Doris
Years ago I picked up my first Spenser novel by Robert P. Parker, and I fell in love. Spenser is the bad boy every woman secretly wants. He is strong, protective, gentle with those he loves, and he can quote poetry even in the deadliest situations. He is totally dedicated to the love of his life, Hawk—uh, I mean Susan Silverman. And, he is funny. I added the Jesse Stone novels and the Sunny Randalls, and, while they are not Spenser, they do very well. It doesn’t matter that the last few novels showed Parker’s plotting skills were fading a bit. It is the characters I love, and Spenser, Hawk, Jesse, and Sunny are still intriguing and fun. Now, with the death of Parker, comes the end of that era. I grieve not only for the author who gave me so many pleasurable hours of reading but for my characters left in limbo. Will Hawk and Spenser—no, no, I mean Spenser and Susan—finally marry? Will Pearl the Dog continue to be the perfect child? Will Jesse finally get over his ex-wife and deal with his alcoholism? Will Sunny and Jesse decide they have found what they need in each other? Those questions may now never be answered except in our hearts, but that is okay. It has been great just getting to know them.
Split Image is the newest Jessie Stone outing. It is a book about love, letting go of old loves, obligations, and understanding what makes us do what we do. Jesse is joined by Sunny Randall who also has relationship issues. Jesse and Sunny are both in therapy to deal with their issues, and the cases they are handling provide a nice framework for some telling therapy sessions. (Sunny’s therapist is the ever-gorgeous Susan Silverman, Spenser’s girlfriend.) Jesse is looking for the killer of a Russian mob enforcer. Sunny is looking for the 18 year old daughter of a high society couple who has ditched the family for a New Age cult. Of course there is more to the cult than meets the eye, and the dead Russian is soon joined by other dead mob people. While discovering if there is a possibility of a healthy relationship for them, Jesse and Sunny work through the separate cases in their laconic and often amusing ways.
Split Image has three plots in motion, but it is the characters that really drive the book. Jess has Suitcase and Molly. Sunny has Spike who, contrary to the implications of the name, is not a Doberman. There are also the Bang Bang Twins who are called such for good reason and the leader of the cult who just might turn out to be rather pathetic. To me the plots have always been secondary to the play of the characters, and Parker has never disappointed me with them.
Rumor has it that there may be another Spenser book in the pipeline. I hope so because I would love to see that Jesse and Sunny, Spenser and Hawk live happily ever after—uh, and you too, Susan Silverman.
Note: Painted Ladies: A Spenser Novel, was completed a year before Robert B. Parker's death. It is scheduled for release in October, 2010. Mr. Parker was at work on another Spenser novel when he died.