Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Robert B. Parker Dead at 77

I was shocked this afternoon to learn of the sudden death of Spenser creator, Robert B. Parker. Mr. Parker was only 77 years old and, these days, that doesn't really seem to be all that old. Parker wrote books other than the ones in his Spencer series, of course, but he will be long remembered for creating that wonderful Boston detective.

In my reading experience, Spenser broke new ground. He was a man's man and he was a woman's man. He could take care of himself and he showed little fear; he believed that the fight of good against evil was a worthy one; he loved to help the underdog and was especially protective of women. He had a long-term relationship with a beautiful woman and he never cheated on her. His best friend was a huge African American man and their friendship was so special that their relationship became one of my favorite things about a Spenser novel. Parker allowed Spenser to age over the years but he remained the same man he always was.

Other writers took the Spenser model and modified it enough to create series characters of their own but Spenser was out there very early in the game, helping to show them the way. I didn't discover Robert B. Parker until 1982 and I remember being thrilled to find out about all the earlier Spenser books. Within a few months, I caught up and had read all the Spenser novels written to that point - and for many years I read the new ones as quickly as I could find them.

Rest in peace, Mr. Parker. I thank you for all the books I've enjoyed over the years and I will really miss you.

(The second photo is from the back flap of 1983's The Widening Gyre, the tenth Spenser novel and the first one I purchased in hardcover - when hardcovers were going for $12.95 each.)

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