Initial Look – Robert B Parker’s Stranger in Paradise

stranger in paradiseI’m just a couple of chapters in, ten maybe eleven, we’ll 50 pages at least, which is one sixth of the total 300 pages… and the story so far refers back to an incident some ten years prior. Since this is the first Jessie Stone novels I’m reading, I’m wondering if it’s like characters in the Spenser stories where they keep popping up. .. oh, one strange crossover is Healy the state police inspector. .. I’ve seen him I’m the Jessie Stone movies and I know he’s a character in several Spenser stories. .. strange coincidence or same guy? My money’s on it being the same guy.

 

One of the disconnects I’m having between this particular Jessie Stone novels and the movies I’ve seen, is that Jessie’s ex wife is here in Paradise… I thought she was back in Los Angeles. .. did this happen during the series of novels? I know I should start by reading Night Passage, the first of the Jessie Stone series, but I’ve only just ordered it and irate won’t be in until the weekend.

 

Decisions, decisions… should I push through then read the first book, or wait to read the first book first? I’ve got plenty of other reading to do in the meantime… there’s never a shortage of things to immerse myself in.

Robert B. Parker – The Godwulf Manuscript

s-l1600Spenser’s first novel. Published in 1973

“Love me,” She said in a choked voice. “Make love to me, make me feel, make love to me, make me feel.” A fleeting part of my mind thought “Jesus, first the mother, then the daughter,” but the enduring part of my mind said, Yes, Yes, Yes, as I bore her back on to the bed and turned the covers back from her.

This isn’t one of those ‘who dunnit’ mysteries where the reader gathers clues within a barrel of red herrings and tries to figure out the identity of the guilty culprit before the detective narrates the mystery’s solution after the story’s climax. It’s also written in the first person narrative. We see the story unfold as Spenser sees it.

This is the first Spenser novel, the ‘pre-Susan’ Spenser. I really enjoyed this novel. The quote above shows that Spenser has enjoyed the pleasures of Mrs. Orchard and is now bedding Miss Orchard and although this may be questionable his persistence and perseverance to the case, and the cause of justice in this story, imbues Spenser with the mantle of the uncorrupted ‘White Knight’ in the mode of Raymond Chandler

Robert Parker makes a point of going to lengths to cloth his characters. Many authors, like Stephen King, as he says in his book On Writing, choose not to go into detail when it comes to clothing the character. As king says, he’s writing a story, not a j crew catalogue. There is a benefit of not going into that kind if detail, his book The Shining was written not long after this novel and thirty years later it doesn’t have the ‘period’ feel that Godwulf Manuscript has.

For instance in introduced us to Mr. Orchard Parker writes; “He wore a dark double-breasted blazer with a crest on the pocket, a thick white turtle neck sweater, grey flared slacks and black ankle boots with a lot of strap and buckle showing.” This level of descriptive detail is typical… even inconsequential characters strolling across this stage are wardrobed.

These very physical descriptions, as well as the description of the places where Spenser goes, mostly in and around Boston, give you a really sense of time and place. Like Dicken’ descriptions give his readers a sense of late nineteenth century London Parker gives you a sense of late nineteenth century Boston.

What starts out with the ‘keep it under wraps’ theft of a university manuscript which points to seventies student radicals soon leads to drug and mob influence on campus… we follow along with Spenser as lead begets lead, with the pace quickening as the climax approaches.

Colin Dexter’s Silent World

silent worldI’ve just finished Colin Dexter’s third Inspector Morse novel, The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn. I’m finding Morse, or perhaps Colin, to be a lot like and episode of Dr House, the first ten percent of the novel is the crime itself, the next eighty percent of the novel is Morse getting thing wrong, then the last ten percent is Morse and his Sargent Lewis narrating the final solution.

The Big Bang – Mickey Spillane / Max Allan Collins

The Big BangA Mike Hammer novel written as a collaboration of Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Colllins. It was written / published in 2010 but its set in the late sixties… somewhere between Spillane’s The Body Lovers (1967) and his Survival… Zero! (1970).

 

“She was out of the designer dress as quick as a jump cut in a movie, and although I was trying to swear off those wild oats Velda had said to get sown, I was human – that curvy body with the dramatic tan lines and the puffy, hard-tipped areolas against stark white flesh and the dark pubic triangle against that same startling white was mine for the asking, without asking, and as she began by falling to her knees to worship the part of me that seemed to be in charge.”

 

Now, I don’t know if that’s a run-on sentence and who am I to judge, but I could clearly follow along with what the author was communicating. Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer seems all-grown-up.

 

The story starts out in a fairly typical fashion, our hero coming to the rescue of a stranger; like an urban knight in somewhat shining armor. After saving a hospital bike messenger from three youthful offenders, killing two and hospitalizing the third, Mike soon finds his way fighting an uphill battle against corruption, deception and narcotics in swinging sixties New York. Max Alan Collins weaves this story from a partial manuscript of Spillane’s from the sixties. Its classic Hammer kicking ass and taking no names from a chic village pottery vender shop to a swinging nightclub and a city hospital connection to the drugs trade.

 

The pacing of the is suspenseful and packed with violence around every corner and sex around every other corner. The action reaches its climax is the antagonist’s lair complete with 60’s style fashion the description of which is worthy of an early Robert B Parker Spenser novel… pure Austin Powers baby. But what really set this novel’s mood, or outlook is the ambiguous ending… Does Mike say something, or is he the urban knight that see’s past the immediate crisis for the future’s possibility? Darkness or the Light?