cover image Robert B. Parker’s Slow Burn

Robert B. Parker’s Slow Burn

Ace Atkins. Putnam, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-17085-0

Edgar-finalist Atkins’s solid fifth Spenser novel (after 2015’s Robert B. Parker’s Kickback) finds the Boston PI looking into a year-old blaze at a Catholic church in the South End that claimed the lives of three firefighters. While Spenser’s fire department friend, Capt. Jack McGee, suspects arson, neither the police nor McGee’s investigators have been able to make a case. McGee needs Spenser to keep a low profile, fearful that his pension may be imperiled if word of his unofficial digging reaches the brass. Meanwhile, some firefighter wannabes, who believe that the fire department isn’t getting the respect or resources it deserves, decide that the way to change things is to begin starting fires. Though the story is mostly formulaic—Spenser spars with thugs, crosses a high-level mobster, shares good food, banter, and a bed with his long-time love interest—Atkins tosses in a surprising change to his lead’s status quo, and series fans will be eager to see what he does with it in Spenser’s next outing. Agent: Helen Brann, Helen Brann Agency. (May)