Books — Cold Service

Cold Service leaves you cold

By Robert Greene

Hawk’s been shot and Spenser is hot on the trail

Cold Service, by Robert B. Parker, Putnam Adult, 2005, 320 pages

Men, you just can’t understand them. This seems to be the underlying theme in Parker’s latest Spenser mystery, Cold Service.

Private investigator Spenser got shot and left for dead in 1997’s Small Vices, and now it’s his buddy Hawk’s turn. Hawk, an always cool and capable urban enforcer, is hired to protect a family but screws up, gets shot and lies helpless while most of the family is brutally killed.

We come into the book with Spenser at Hawk’s hospital bed, offering to help with the whole vengeance and justice thing. It seems the Ukrainian Mafia is involved.

All the boys are back — shooter Vinnie Morris, tough cops Quirk and Belson. Most of the other members of Spenser’s all-male review are mentioned by name. Meanwhile Susan Silverman, Spenser’s longtime love, sits around admitting that she has no idea what drives and bonds such men but, gee, ain’t it handy in a pinch?

Parker’s dialog is still fun and edgy and the book will keep your brain busy for a night or two. But Parker has done better, lately with the fresher material of his Jesse Stone novels. The Sunny Randall (Spenser in a dress) books are another story, but at least Parker is not afraid to try something different.

In case you were worried, Hawk gets better and recovers well enough that he is holding a guy out a window about a third of the way into the book. He’s tough, that Hawk. I liked Small Vices better, if only because it showed the road to recovery after multiple gunshot wounds is slow and painful. Hawk bounced back a bit too quick. But in the end, it’s OK, because we like him.

- Robert Greene

2005 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH