Boston PI Spenser faces a hot case and a personal crisis in this adventure in Robert B. Parker’s iconic New York Times bestselling series.
The fire at a boarded-up Catholic church raged hot and fast, lighting up Boston’s South End and killing three firefighters who were trapped in the inferno. A year later, as the city prepares to honor their sacrifice, there are still no answers about how the deadly fire started. Most at the department believe it was just a simple accident: faulty wiring in a century-old building. But Boston firefighter Jack McGee, who lost his best friend in the blaze, suspects arson.
McGee is convinced department investigators aren’t sufficiently connected to the city’s lowlifes to get a handle on who's behind the blaze—so he takes the case to Spenser. Spenser quickly learns not only that McGee might be right, but that the fire might be linked to a rash of new arsons, spreading through the city, burning faster and hotter every night. Spenser follows the trail of fires to Boston’s underworld, bringing him, his trusted ally Hawk, and his apprentice Sixkill toe-to-toe with a dangerous new enemy who wants Spenser dead, and doesn’t play by the city’s old rules. Spenser has to find the firebug before he kills again—and stay alive himself.
Edgar-finalist Atkins's solid fifth Spenser novel (after 2015's Robert B. Parker's Kickback) finds the Boston PI looking into a year-old blaze at a Catholic church in the South End that claimed the lives of three firefighters. While Spenser's fire department friend, Capt. Jack McGee, suspects arson, neither the police nor McGee's investigators have been able to make a case. McGee needs Spenser to keep a low profile, fearful that his pension may be imperiled if word of his unofficial digging reaches the brass. Meanwhile, some firefighter wannabes, who believe that the fire department isn't getting the respect or resources it deserves, decide that the way to change things is to begin starting fires. Though the story is mostly formulaic Spenser spars with thugs, crosses a high-level mobster, shares good food, banter, and a bed with his long-time love interest Atkins tosses in a surprising change to his lead's status quo, and series fans will be eager to see what he does with it in Spenser's next outing.
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Nicely written and Spenser is in his usual wise guy demeanor which I enjoy.
Great read in the Parker/Spencer tradition.
Keeping friendship alive
I suppose that most of us who read and reread Spenser do so because it takes us to a familiar, comfortable place. My mom sent me The Godwulf Manuscript in 1986 and after laughing out loud two or three times in the first few chapters, I was hooked. Over the years, I looked forward to each new edition the way I looked forward to getting together with old friends during my travels.
Sometimes those meetings don’t go so well. One of us is having a bad day; the restaurant we choose is too loud; the food is off; not much has happened since we last met or we have to reach a bit to keep the conversation going. Parker himself fell flat once in a while. But longtime friends know this, give each other a break and keep coming back unless they’re convinced that the relationship has nothing to offer anymore.
By any literal accounting, Spenser, Hawk, Susan, Quirk and the other characters would all be in their late seventies or early eighties by now. Ace Atkins does an admirable job of preserving what we love about them and “Slow Burn” is no exception. If anything, I’m even more excited than usual about our next meeting as a showdown with Tony D. looms.
Keep ‘em coming Ace...