Organized crime in Parker's fictional Boston has provided protein-rich fodder for most of the Spenser novels (recently, Thin Air and Walking Shadow). Parker sticks to the tried and true here, as his burly and literate PI untangles the knotted power schemes of the four putative heirs-and a brash newcomer-to old Joe Broz's domain. A second-echelon hoodlum, Julius Ventura, hires Spenser and his partner/sidekick Hawk to find his daughter's missing husband, a middle-management criminal named Anthony Meeker, who, it turns out, had money-handling responsibilities. Speedily determining that Meeker liked to gamble, Spenser and his lover, psychiatrist Susan Silverman, and Hawk depart for Las Vegas. They find their quarry, discover the complicating identity of his female companion and are joined by assorted other players, including one of Ventura's nastier fellow crimesters and Meeker's wife. A murder follows, sending Spenser back to Boston to determine who has betrayed whom and to try to smooth the way out for one of the women involved in the mess. This is vintage Parker, replete with the expected black/white repartee between Spenser and Hawk and the archly crude dialogue he carries on with Susan. (""Had I been a lascivious Irish shrink, would you have loved me anyway?"" she asks. Spenser replies affirmatively and adds, ""But I think you've just coined a tripartite oxymoron."") Despite a mid-course swerve in the plot, the action rings true, especially the machinations among the crime bosses, as Spenser proves himself once more a modern-day knight in shining armor. Author tour. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1996 Release date: 05/01/1996 Genre: Fiction
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