When Susan's ex-husband, Brad, appears after a decades-long absence, nearly broke and the object of a sexual-harassment suit, Spenser reluctantly agrees to help. As he investigates the circumstances surrounding the suit, he discovers that fund-raiser Brad is swimming in very deep water: mobsters, who were using his fund-raising campaigns to launder money, have discovered he was cooking the already cooked books and aren't at all pleased. The deeper Spenser digs, the more bodies he uncovers and the more culpable Brad appears to be.
The 25th Spenser novel isn't a romance, but it's all about love. In early springtime, Susan Silverman, the elegant psychologist and lover who long ago softened the heart of Boston's preeminent thug-sized PI, asks Spenser to investigate the sexual harassment suit that has been filed against her first husband, Brad Sterling. Susan's ambivalence about Brad's predicament doesn't make the case easy for Spenser; nor does the gradually disclosed involvement of the noted Harvard Law School professor whose young wife is one of the plaintiffs. As Spenser and his sidekick, Hawk, trace Brad's business dealings (he's a professional fund-raiser who's hired to run mammoth charity events), they also come up against a lawyer employed by the local organized crime crowd and some hired muscle associated with same, one of whom is found fatally shot in Brad's office. The next murder victim, a woman, turns out to be the director of a counseling service for ex-cons, which was also listed as benefiting from the most recent charity bash. What's more, the dead woman had her own connection to the still-missing Brad. Threatened repeatedly with fists and guns while coping with Susan's rare emotional uncertainty, Spenser stays the course to a resolution in which he and Susan both prevail. The mystery in this valentine may be insubstantial, but readers who pick up Parker's bestselling series for its characters and atmosphere will be delighted. BOMC main selection.