Spenser, part two

Hardy Boys

At this point, arbitrary observations come bubbling up. Clearly, this canon is an antecedent to a large number of other, similar series. A personal, perennial favorite being Stuart Wood’s Stone Barrington — hat tip to an old girlfriend.

Looking around, on a bottom shelf in my current office/computer room? Flanking and facing out? I have the bulk of the Kinky Friedman collection, Kinky Friedman alluded to as a musician of some note in Playmates, as well, as a similar experience. Or even Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher.”

The Jack Reacher series, more so, as it features a large, brawler-type, loner with a definite moral compass that sometimes falls short of the law of the land. Same applies to Spenser.

The Spenser novels spawned a TV series, then a couple of made-for-TV movies, and so far, I’ve studiously avoid polluting my literary escapism with the taint of TV images. Personally? Makes for a richer experience, but the serious money comes from the movies and TV versions.

Pulling together the list of books, in order, I noticed that the author passed in 2010, but the series production just kept churning along. I haven’t got there yet, so I don’t know. But the most recent Stuart Woods novel I picked up, there’s a co-author listed on the cover, and that’s not the first time it’s happened. Jack Reacher’s latest adventure was co-authored, same kind of deal.

The first dozen Spenser were easy, proper pacing mostly read them on kindle, so it timed me. Maybe four or six hours to a book. Pacing was critical, with the earlier ones being a little less grisly in execution.

That pacing is key. During the four or six hours of reading, there’s a slow build, setting up the tension, the plot elements at play, and then, the strong finish, usually with violent resolution then a denouement. Reminded me of most the hour-long action adventure crime police procedurals — 41 minutes — with a setup, staging, third act twist, and fourth act showdown. “And they lived happily ever after,” end of each one. But as lightweight novels, this was more fun.

What started it?

Be nice to visit Boston.

Spenser, part two

A Catskill Eagle

A Catskill Eagle (Spenser Book 12)
1985, and Northern Cal., a very 1985 Northern California. Memories of a pseudo-industrial roadie, back in the day, timelines match. But wait, there’s more.

Taming a Seahorse

Taming a Seahorse (Spenser Book 13)
1986 — honest Iago, in Shakespeare’s Othello — I used to know act and scene number. Page 20. Compassion for the victims. Assorted literary references along with dramatic violence.

Pale Kings and Princes

Pale Kings and Princes (Spenser, No 14)
1987 — strains of the old blues tune? “Cocaine, running all round my brain.”

Crimson Joy

Crimson Joy (Spenser)
1988 imprint, looks like. But wait.

“Psychopaths, and we must assume that we’ve got one here, have their own logic, a logic rooted in their own symbolism.” Page 17.

Crazy man.


Playmates (The Spenser Series Book 16)
1989 — College hoops, corrupt college hoops? Layered with intrigue and educational questions.

“Hawk was listening to an album by Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys.” Page 245.

Just, like, nothing to with anything. Move along; good book, fun read.


Stardust (The Spenser Series Book 17)
1990 — literature, Shakespeare allusions, and dick jokes, all before the halfway mark. And murder most foul, but a reasonably low body count.


Pastime (The Spenser Series Book 18)
1991, and healthcare gets better.

Double Deuce

Double Deuce (Spenser)
Double down on inner-city gangland? 1992 imprint? Shoot out at the OK Corral?

Paper Doll

Paper Doll (Spenser)
Political intrigue and murder, again, most foul — 1993, looks like. I tend to judge authors by the names they drop.

Thin Air (1995)

Thin Air (Spenser Book 22)

“but it’s a departmental policy to discourage murder when we can” page 29.

Just found it a funny line — from a cop. Vatos and assorted gangs?

Chance (1996)

Chance (Spenser Book 23)
Hoodlums, and Las Vegas, a winning combination, and most near a Vegas I recall.

Spenser, part one