cover image Pale Kings and Princes

Pale Kings and Princes

Robert B. Parker. Delacorte Press, $15.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-385-29538-3

The TV series Spenser: For Hire is based on Parker's bestselling series of mysteries starring a Boston private detective, and this taut thriller will no doubt match its predecessors' success. The murder of newspaper reporter Eric Valdez takes Spenser to Wheaton, Mass., where Valdez was investigating a Colombian cocaine operation. After a meeting with the police chief, Bailey Rogers, the detective is waylaid by thugs whom he beats handily. Spenser confirms his suspicions that a grocery wholesaler, Felipe Esteva, is dealing the drug and paying off the police. The next murder victim, however, is Rogers, whose young son drives a truck for Esteva. Spenser daringly hijacks a fortune in cocaine and offers to sell it to Esteva, as dangerous a ploy as the macho detective has ever attempted. When his only ally, a state trooper, is ""reassigned,'' Spenser brings his lover Susan to help with psychological warfare and his sidekick Hawk to face Esteva's mob. Parker keeps the reader's adrenalin pumping overtime until Spenser and company claim the victory. Mystery Guild dual main selection; Literary Guild/Doubleday Book Club alternate. (June 5)