While the rest of us grow older, Spenser seems suspended in perpetual early middle age. Oh, he talks about getting older, but his body is still firm, his muscles toned, and his reflexes are still hair-trigger fine. Even so, it is Spenser's body that betrays him when he is almost killed by an assassin's bullet two-thirds of the way through Robert B. Parker's latest Spenser adventure, Small Vices. Hired to discover the truth behind a four-year-old murder, Spenser soon runs afoul of "the Gray Man," who eventually shoots and partially paralyzes him. Spenser, his stalwart girlfriend Susan, and his almost mythical friend Hawk then hole up in Santa Barbara until the detective can get back on his feet again.
There's never any doubt that Spenser will get back on his feet, or that he will eventually track down the man who shot him and solve the mystery that started the whole ball rolling in the first place. What makes the Spenser mysteries interesting is Spenser himself, the thinking person's private eye, a man of honor and of conscience who understands that every action has consequences.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Spenser falls . . .and gets up!, August 7, 2003 Reviewer: Larry Scantlebury from Ypsilanti, MI United States This is one of my favorite Spenser tales. And we love him because . . . . I guess it's kind of that John Wayne feeling, you like to have a big guy around who can always be relied upon to take care of business. Here, he almost fails, and that's the magnetism of Small Vices. Spenser is hired by the now successful, leggy Rita Fiore. There is the usual overt flirting ". . . too bad you didn't . . ." and "Boy, if you only had . . ." and "you had your chance . . " that we've come to chuckle at and with the honorable sleuth. Here he's asked to track down 'the real murderer' which will free a man wrongfully doing life in the hard place. It's hard to pity the imprisoned man Spenser is asked to free. It seems most feel he doesn't really deserve to be freed . . . even the loyal friend Hawk feels that Alves belongs in jail, "either for this crime or one he got away with." But Spenser, who again tells someone his first name but not us, gets too close and takes three slugs to the shoulder, leg and chest. It takes Susan, Hawk, Quirk, Belson, Lee Farrel and Vinnie nearly a year to rehab Spenser, who loses 40 pounds in the process, has a hard time making his limbs do what he wants them to, and basically can't walk. But they do and honor and heroism prevail, villains are suitably thrashed, and Susan and Spenser hook up. Again. And again. There's a lot of vulnerability in Spenser this time. Like Joe Pike in The Last Detective, his body has betrayed him and he is lost. Sadness, even tears. The pages describing Spenser trying to get up the hill in Santa Barbara after again learning how to walk again are riveting. Good stuff. If I had a disappointment, it was Spenser's laissez faire attitude towards Hawk who took a year off to mentor/train/help him. But maybe that's part of the mystique, he knew how he felt and so did Hawk. Great stuff. Rachel Wallace is still #1 for me but Small Vices is a close second.