I started reading Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole novels a few months back, and from the very onset I was hounded by reviews which complained Cole being a copy (albeit a poor one) of Robert Parker’s Spenser. The reviewers complained(or remarked) that the tongue-in-cheek dialogues coming out of Cole’s mouth were too much of a copy of those coming out of Spenser’s mouth, and they didn’t sound original. I was intrigued and by the second Elvis Cole novel I was tired of Cole, and his, what I considered a desperate attempt to sound smart-ass, “cool” attitude. And from that moment I wanted to read Parker and Spenser, if not for anyhting else, just to find out what kind of a character this Spenser is, whom Cole is supposedly imitating. Thus came PROMISED LAND and with the book came a realisation as to why Spenser is Spenser, and Cole, in atleast his first two novels was just a copy of him.
This is not my first Robert B. Parker novel. I had read MELANCHOLY BABY featuring Sunny Randall, and found it to be a book which was pleasant to read, but was not worth remembering for a long time. PROMISED LAND and I will remember this book for a long time. Not for the plot or the characters as a whole, but for a protagonist named Spenser and his partner named Susan Silverman. They are a couple. I cant describe the way they speak, or the way Spenser was made to speak. But, Robert Parker successfully created a protagonist, who is fun to read about, who is serious when it comes to matters relating to heart and client, who reads a lot, and who delivers his dialogues in a way to make me wish that I wish I could deliver lines like Spenser. Not for a single moment he or his character seems boring, over the top, or a smart-ass who is trying to hard to sound cool. The lines come out of his mouth, as if those lines are the most normal lines in the world and they are Spenser’s birthright. Hats off to the late great Parker.
But, I was disappointed with the plot. Actually I anticipated one with more element of mystery in it. A whodunit where Spenser uses his skill finds out a criminal who had committed a crime. This book was much of an adventure where the good and the bad guys were pointed out early and they stayed true to their colour. The ending was also the one which was anticipated, but what made this book a fun read was obviously Spenser, and the speed which made this “know all” adventure fast and not boring.
And, Hawk who starts out as a bad guy, but ultimately turns out to be a ‘sort’ of sidekick to Spenser. With Mouse and Joe Pike(another Cole connection) Hawk adds up to my list of another ‘sidekick’ who left on their own has enough ammo to overshadow the main guy.
P.S. Crais and Cole brought out their originality from the third book, and despite leaving their second book unfinished I raced through the third instalment and finished it with a contended sigh. Finally, Cole found out that he doesn’t need to be a shadow of Spenser, because left on his own he is himself that good.