From School Library Journal
YA-- Parker's latest mystery features his likable sleuth Spenser (spelled ``like the poet''); the shady, enigmatic Hawk; and Spenser's longtime love, Susan Silverman. In this sequel to Early Autumn (Dell, 1987), Paul Giacomin (now 25) asks Spenser to locate his missing mother, who has become involved with the mob and disappeared under mysterious circumstances. This is one of Parker's strongest novels of late, reminiscent of his earlier works. The emphasis is on character interaction and... Hardcover edition.
Middling entry in an increasingly self indulgent series, July 19, 2003 Reviewer: Fred Harvey from Birmingham England "Pastime" reintroduces a character first glimpsed in the book "Early Autumn" ,the dancer Paul Giacomo .In the early novel he had been taken in hand by Spenser and turned from an unprepossessing and gangly 15 year old slacker into an achiever .Now he re-enters Spensers life and asks for help in finding his mother who has gone missing. Unfortunately she has absconded with a man named Beaumont who just happens to have fleeced the local mob and is being hunted down by Gerry ,the no good incompetent son of the local mob chief.There is every chance that Paul's mother is in harms way by virtue of her association with Beaumont During the course of the book Spenser battles mobsters ,is sseriously wounded and eventually comes to an understanding with the mob. There is a great deal too much back story in the book for my taste -the ever over inquisitive Susan probes Spenser for details of his past and his relationship with his sidekick Hawk while the conversation of Paul is saturated with psycobabble to a teeth clenchingly irritating extent What has knocked the series off the rails for me has been the increasing space given to Spencers relationship with the shrink Susan -it has transformed what were sharp and almost over readable crime stories into "touchy-feely "exercises redolent of the self absorbtion I see as the ultimate sin of psychoanalysis The action when it comes is crisp and sharp but there is too little of it and until Parker dumps Susan and the damnable dog they share this series will continue to be seen as the irrelevance it at present is What a waste.