No, that’s not the name of a high-powered law firm. It’s a summary of a book that may be a bit off the regular reading path of my visitors here. It’s a collection of new essays by some of today’s best writers of P.I. mysteries about another very important writer, the late Robert B. Parker, creator of the Boston P.I., Spenser. The book, “In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero“, is edited by Otto Penzler, of the Mysterious Press and the Mysterious Bookshop.
Readers of this blog know that I don’t write about hard-boiled P.I. books very often – they’re really not my speed. But it is also undeniably true that Robert B. Parker has been tremendously influential on many of today’s authors who are in what might properly be called the Hammett-Chandler-Parker tradition. The table of contents of “In Pursuit of Spenser” includes familiar names such as Ace Atkins (who has been chosen to continue the Spenser series), Lawrence Block, Dennis Lehane, Max Allan Collins, Parnell Hall and S. J. Rozan. There are essays on different aspects of Parker’s skills, Spenser’s character and about some of the other regulars in the series. There’s a good introduction from Otto Penzler. And there’s a bonus treat: “Spenser: A Profile,” originally written by Parker for the Mysterious Bookshop, now available to a wider readership.
“In Pursuit of Spenser” has been nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical this year by the Mystery Writers of America. It has been published by the Smart Pop imprint of the alliteratively-named Ben Bella Books, which was kind enough to provide me with a copy for this review. If you enjoy Spenser, or if you merely want to learn more about an important author in the wider mystery field, you will enjoy this book.