Spenser has his hands full when he takes on two cases at once. In the first, a high-minded university might be hiding a killer within a swamp of political correctness. And in the other, Spenser comes to the aid of a stalking victim, only to find himself the unwilling object of the woman's dangerous affection.
Despite his quarter century on Boston's mean streets (he debuted in The Godwulf Manuscript in 1974), Parker's retrograde yet hip PI Spenser can still punch, sleuth and wisecrack with the best of them. This time out, Spenser looks into the case of Robinson Nevins, a conservative African-American professor denied tenure, perhaps for his alleged affair with a male student, Prentice Lamont, who has committed suicide. Spenser's hard-eyed stroll through the cloistered world of academia brings him into contact with Amir Abdullah, a black professor who is theatrically militant about African-American issues despite a long list of sexual conquests that includes the leader of a white supremacist organization. Sexual conquest is also on the mind of K.C. Roth, a pretty woman beset by insecurity and prey to a stalker. When Spenser and his sidekick, Hawk, persuade her sinister admirer to desist, K.C.'s fragile emotions lead her to fall hard for Spenser, and the stalked becomes the stalker. Naturally, Spenser's longtime lover, Susan, is less than amused. Readers who find the Spenser chronicles cute or contrived probably won't change their minds with this entry. Beyond dispute, however, is Parker's reliably gossamer narrative touch and, in this particular instance, his skilled brewing of suspense within the academic setting. Fans will also enjoy unexpected revelations about Hawk's background, Spenser's serving of justice with a vengeance and, as usual, prose that's as clean as a sea breeze. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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March 31, 2000
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