I was saddened to read the news of the death of novelist Robert B. Parker. He was best known for his crime fiction, and for creating the tough-guy Boston P.I. Spenser.
I became a fan almost 30 years ago, when I picked up his novel Looking for Rachel Wallace at a mall bookstore in Missoula, Montana. This was my first real taste of hard-boiled detective fiction. I was looking for something lightweight to read while I was in the midst of a 13,000-mile bicycle trip around the United States. Beginning a Parker novel was like stepping into quicksand… you are sucked in immediately. I quickly polished off Parker’s previous Spenser novels, then gobbled up other writers of detective fiction, like Arthur Lyons, Roger Simon, Jonathan Valin, and others.
I introduced Spenser to my family and for many years, Parker obliged us by coming out with a new novel just in time of my mother’s birthday.
After some time, I began to tire of the Spenser bit — too much dialog with his girlfriend, Susan Silverman. In recent years, however, Parker began dabbling in westerns, and I’ve read each of these and enjoyed them. While Robert Parker’s books were always quick reads, he nevertheless supplied me with many enjoyable escapist hours. I will miss seeing a new Parker title on the shelves of my local bookstore.