cover image Pastime


Robert B. Parker. Putnam, $19.95 (223pp) ISBN 978-0-399-13628-3

A bold but surprisingly uncomplex plot distinguishes Spenser's latest adventure as the Boston PI searches for the mother of Paul Giacomin, the young man saved by the burly sleuth 10 years earlier in Early Autumn. Spenser, now ``middle class and uptown,'' is given to drinking Scotch at the Ritz with Susan Silverman, his self-possessed psychiatrist lover, and talking to their dog as if it were a child. But he still works out at the gym with his black friend Hawk, and can stand up to crime boss Joe Broz while trailing Paul's mother to the hideaway of her gangster boyfriend, who has recently stolen a million dollars from the mob. After warning them of their danger from Broz, Spenser is shot in the leg in a violent interchange with Broz's son and friends, who then track him through the Berkshires for two days before he outwits them. Raymond Chandler's influence shows up in the linear plot and the often arch, Dick-and-Jane dialogue. But Parker, a master in his own right, ages Spenser well (even including a bit of background about his childhood) and produces a fast, undemanding but nonetheless satisfying read. Mystery Guild selection; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates. (July)