cover image Robert B. Parker’s Old Black Magic: A Spenser Novel

Robert B. Parker’s Old Black Magic: A Spenser Novel

Ace Atkins. Putnam, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-399-17701-9

The 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist, one of the art world’s greatest unsolved mysteries, provides the spark for bestseller Atkins’s entertaining seventh Spenser novel (after 2017’s Little White Lies). Locke, an old colleague, tells Spenser he’s dying and looking to settle his affairs. In particular, he wants the Boston PI’s help in recovering El Greco’s The Gentleman in Black, one of three valuable paintings stolen from the Winthrop Museum two decades earlier. Locke has pursued the thieves for years without success, but now the Winthrop’s director has started to receive letters from someone with convincing details about the theft. A solution to the case could at last be at hand. Spenser soon finds himself in a race against an obnoxious British investigator who specializes in art crimes. As usual, Atkins emulates Parker’s style and dry humor flawlessly (“It was Susan’s turn to cook, so we had reservations at Harvest”), but this straightforward, plot-driven entry lacks the attention to the developing relationship between Spenser and Susan that marked the previous book. Author tour. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (May)