Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Robert B. Parker's Lullaby by Ace Atkins

Let's face it. Ace Atkins had tough shoes to fill, and he faced a great deal of skepticism. Could anyone take Robert B. Parker's place as the author of Spenser? No one can take Parker's place, but Atkins did an excellent job with Robert B. Parker's Lullaby. All the familiar characters are there. The wit is there. And, actually there is more of a mystery in this book than in many of the last books Parker wrote. It was wonderful to meet up with Spenser and Hawk again. It's hard to say that the series will successfully continue. No matter what happens, Atkins can be proud of keeping Spenser alive for those of us who love him.

Spenser is in his office when his latest client enters. Mattie Sullivan is only fourteen, a girl too old for her age from South Boston, Southie. She wants Spenser to find her mother's killer. Her mother was raped, stabbed, and run over by a car four years earlier. Mattie doesn't believe the man arrested for the murder is guilty. She saw her mother snatched from the street by two men and stuffed in a car. She even knew who the men were. But who listens to a kid, the daughter of an addict? Only Spenser, and, eventually Hawk.

There was something about Mattie that reminded him of Paul Giacomin, the lost young man who he took under his wing and taught to be a man. Mattie was tough and smart, surviving on her own with no adult who really cared. And, Susan Silverman could see how much he bonded with a client who he asked to pay him in doughnuts. Susan could see their similarity. "Mattie works like you. She annoys people until they trip up."

Mattie and Spenser annoy the wrong people in this book, everyone from an FBI agent to all kinds of crooks. And, Spenser is just fine with annoying people, until the wrong people go after Mattie.

Faults with the book? I understand some people have objected to Mattie's language. For Pete's sake, she's a kid living in a housing project raising herself and her two sisters after seeing her mother snatched from the street. What kind of language do they expect this kid to use? Faults or flaws with the book? I didn't see any. It was wonderful to meet up with Spenser, Hawk, Quirk, and Rita Fiore again. Even Susan Silverman wasn't as irritating as she was in recent years.

So, here's a thank you to Ace Atkins. Thanks for bringing Spenser back to us in Robert B. Parker's Lullaby.

Ace Atkins' website is www.aceatkins.com

Robert B. Parker's Lullaby by Ace Atkins. G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2012. ISBN 9780399158032 (hardcover), 310p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


10 comments:

Bev Stephans said...

We seem to be currently reading the same books. I too, like Ace Atkins' voice. It's not quite Parker, but close enough to be enjoyable. If you weren't familiar with Spenser, the book could stand on its own merit. As for Mattie's language, you are right; she lives in a tough housing project and that's the way they talk. If she talked like som prissy little girl, she would be laughed out of the projects.

I will definitly be looking for Atkins' next Spenser book, and in the meantime, I think I'll look for some of his other books.

Once again, thank you for a great review.

Bev Stephans said...

That should read, 'some' prissy little girl. I was typing too fast to notice my error. LOL!

Lesa said...

That's funny, Bev, that we're choosing the same books right now. Totally agree with you. I couldn't put my finger on why the voice isn't quite right, but close enough that I'll read Atkins' next Spenser book. I liked it. Glad to hear you agree with me about Mattie, too.

Sue Farrell said...

I've so missed Spencer---after reading you review I know I'll go buy this one.
Thanks

Italia said...

This was my first time to read a book by Ace Atkins... and I enjoyed his take on Spenser. And that's coming from a long-time, seriously sincere fan of the late Robert B. Parker (a great American writer). There were some false notes, but not many, and honestly, nothing too egregious. Many well-considered references to the Spenserian canon. Several references to True Grit (and its theme of a 14-year-old girl seeking justice), as well. With that book being one of my absolute all-time favorites, Mr. Atkins has made an outstandingly good move if he's trying to win me over.

Judith said...

I've tried twice to leave a comment and they keep disappearing. So this is a test....

Judith

Judith said...

I've tried twice to leave a comment and they keep disappearing. So this is a test....

Judith

Judith said...

I've tried twice to leave a comment and they keep disappearing. So this is a test....

Judith

Judith said...

Sorry for the triplicate. [shrug]

My comment, if this one gets through, is just that I didn't think Mattie's language was that bad, for her circumstances. She certainly was an endearing character. I wonder if we will see more of her?

I was more startled by Hawk's streetwise language. I recall Parker using that very sparingly and there is much more of it in this book.

Judith

Anonymous said...

too gritty for me, language/violence/oppressive neighborhoods - not enough north shore - too much Dennis Lehane, in Robert Parker the violence was usually quick also you didn't have to spend the whole day with thugs... more time was spent reflecting on relationship, the unknowns the possible complicated outcomes. I did not find Mattie endearing...