"It's easy to see why Parker's snappy banter and cynical eye have kept fans turning pages for 25 years . . . his wisecracks, combined with Parker's shorthand flair for scathing characterization, make for a satisfying read," said Entertainment Weekly of last year's Hush Money. Now Parker presents Spenser with a deceptively dangerous and multi-layered case: Someone has been killing racehorses at stables across the south, and the Boston P.I. travels to Georgia to protect the two-year-old destined to become the next Secretariat.
When Spenser is approached by Walter Clive, president of Three Fillies Stables, to find out who is threatening his horse Hugger Mugger, he can hardly say no: He's been doing pro bono work for so long his cupboards are just about bare. Disregarding the resentment of the local Georgia law enforcement, Spenser takes the case. Though Clive has hired a separate security firm, he wants someone with Spenser's experience to supervise the operation.
Despite a veneer of civility, Spenser encounters tensions beneath the surface southern gentility. The case takes an even more deadly turn when the attacker claims a human victim, and Spenser must revise his impressions of the whole Three Fillies organization--and watch his own back as well.
With razor-sharp dialogue, eloquently spare prose, and some of the best supporting characters to grace the printed page, Hugger Mugger is grand entertainment.
Despite frequent appearances by Susan Silverman (longtime love of Boston PI Spenser) and the absence of Hawk (his enigmatic sidekick), the latest entry in Parker's estimable series is a worthy one. Missing is the sap that can stickie-up scenes between Spenser and Susan, and in Hawk's place strides a new sidekick, Tedy Sapp, who's gay and as tough as they come. Tedy's only a temp replacement, though, because the reason he's here and Hawk's not is that most of the action takes place in rural Georgia, where Tedy owns a gay bar. Spenser travels there on his own temp job--to find out who's been shooting horses at Three Fillies Stables, owned by Walter Clive, the most powerful man in the county, and to keep that someone from shooting Clive's prize thoroughbred, Hugger Mugger. Spenser roots through the highly dysfunctional family of Clive's three daughters and their husbands (one a pedophile, one a drunk), annoys Clive's security men and befriends both Tedy and the local sheriff, with whom the PI discusses doughnuts. When Clive is shot dead, Spenser is fired by the alpha daughter, only to be rehired by Clive's mistress, who believes there's more to the mayhem than horseplay. This novel offers more traditional mystery elements than many Spenser tales, although most readers will finger the prime villain way before Spenser does. The pacing is strong, the characters are fresh as dew and the prose is Parker-perfect. The Spenser-specific personal drama that drives the best of the tales is lacking, but overall, the story will fit Parker fans like an old shoe. FYI: Parker's most recent novel, Family Honor, will be filmed starring Helen Hunt.
I believe Mr. Parker has created a new class of shallow characters beginning with the main, a seemingly part time detective who goes by the name, "Spenser". The plot is so canned it would make a highly unsuccessful "B" movie. The entire novel reads like the rough first draft of a hurry up and write it, screenplay. Artificial, is the word that comes to mind most when I consider the rest of the characters. Perhaps a great more thought by the author will assist in his next attempt. Only time and sales shall tell.