Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Robert B. Parker's Bye Bye Baby (Spenser #49)


Robert B. Parker's Bye Bye Baby is the 49th Spenser novel, and the 10th (by my count) written by Ace Atkins after Mr. Parker's death. Released 18th Jan 2022 by Penguin Random House on their G.P. Putnam's Sons imprint, it's 320 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. 

I've been in love with this series since book 1 (The Godwulf Manuscript) and I was really sad when the author passed, thinking that I would have to confine myself to re-reads to get my Spenser/Hawk fix. I was nervous about someone else taking over the writing, but have been really impressed and happy with all the newest books in the series. This has been a pillar series for me, especially in the last couple of years of madness with the pandemic and all of the misery and unhappiness and stress in the world, this series has been a treasured escape.

I have been revisiting the original books (by Parker himself) as well as the posthumous books and they keep growing on me. I love the banter and the way the established characters really live and breathe. Yes, they're popular fiction, but I'll stand up in any graduate English lecture class and rebut the sneering label "light popular fiction" with the fact that they're really superbly well written. They go to the same shelf in the internal library in my brain as John D. MacDonald and Rex Stout - popular fiction, yes, but also satisfyingly rendered and worthwhile.

It's a solidly written PI murder mystery with an indelible American flavor. Boston's local atmosphere and settings are a vital part of the book. I love Spenser's relationship with Susan (smart, funny, capable, and real) and the interplay between Spenser and his compatriots. I loved the sarcastic wit and real humor and repartee in the dialogue. I'm obviously a solid fan of this series, and my opinion wasn't dented one tiny bit by this latest adventure. Ace Atkins isn't Robert B. Parker, but he's pretty darned close. 

Five stars for fans of the series. Probably four to five for new readers who enjoy gritty American PI adventures. For readers unfamiliar with the series, grab them as you can find them. They all work perfectly well as standalones.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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