RARA-AVIS: Robert B. Parker

From: Mark D. Nevins (nevins_mark@yahoo.com)
Date: 22 Jan 2010

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    Reading the various responses to the death of Parker here on RARA-AVIS has been interesting. Fans of crime fictions seem either to love or to dismiss Parker's work; as a relative newcomer to crime fiction I wouldn't have picked Parker to be so polarizing.

    With guidance from a few aficionado friends (one of whom semi-lurks here as I do), I got as far as JUDAS GOAT in the "Spenser" series. (Like someone else who posted here recently, I too am a little anal about reading series in order. I read Parker primarily on various round-trip flights to Boston for work ca. 2205-2007. It may amuse Avians (well, it amused me me) to know that I finished reading THE GODWULF MANUSCRIPT while lying in my bed at the Copley Hotel. The amusement derives, of course, from the fact that the novel itself concludes in a room at that same famous Boston hotel. (I neither planned nor foresaw this coincidence.)

    I let Spenser go at that point because I "got it" and didn't feel the series was going anywhere else. I had also been warned about the perils of CATSKILL EAGLE, and figured I should quite while ahead.

    To bring back another recent thread, for reading of this kind, what I would call "comfort reading," I find I much prefer the Travis McGee books. Maybe Spenser vs. Travis is our version of "Beatles or Stones"?

    All that being said, I may try a Jesse Stone book in Parker's memory; I found an unread HC 1st of the first book in the series for 50 cents at a Brooklyn stoop sale last summer.

    Finally, with the passing of Westlake and Parker almost exactly a year apart, I find myself wondering: who are our remaining Living Titans of Crime Fiction? I'd set the top 3 (as much for my own personal taste as "importance") as Leonard, Block, and Ellroy. Am I forgetting anyone? We're none of us getting any younger, are we?

    Best, Mark Nevins

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