LOOKING FOR RACHEL WALLACE by Robert B. Parker, found Spenser being asked by a publisher to play bodyguard duties to a feminist-lesbian-activist-writer who had started receiving threatening calls the moment her new book had hit the stands. Although as one would discover that those calls were warranted, as the writer in her book exposed many a corporations and people in high places being biased towards women, gay women in particular. Spenser takes up the job, and within the first few minutes starts having personality and verbal clashes with his client. He manages to hold on, only to be fired later, because he saved her from getting thrown out of a corporation premises by a couple of baddies who meant to throw her out for giving speeches to their female employees, which actually went against their policies. Rachel Wallace called Spenser a male chauvinist pig trying to work his way using his brute force, Spenser argued back that he was only doing his job. Spenser gets fired, goes home, only to learn later that Rachel Wallace has been kidnapped. Always the dutiful man, he goes to the police station and offers his services, and eventually manages to find out where Ms. Wallace is, and who was holding her.
Did I enjoy the book? No, I didn’t. Did I hate the book? No, I definitely didn’t either. So, why didn’t I enjoy? Well, for a piece of crime fiction this book had a plot which was low/too low on the suspense/mystery quotient. As much so, this one read like a police file on a kidnapping undertaken by an amateur, only to be solved within hours. The book in toto, had just one real suspect, and it was this person who turned out to be the kidnapper. Not really too captivating as a plot of crime writing. But, it could have been different. Robert B. Parker could have used the threats related to the book to disguise a more sinister motive behind the kidnapping. And presented with a criminal whose motive for the crime was totally different from what he wanted us the reader to believe it was i.e. the threats related to the book were just meant to be red herrings. Spenser would have ripped through that smoke screen to unveil the real criminal and the deeper darker plot. That would have been more Spenser-esque. But instead we got stuck with one terribly foolish criminal, a bad mouthed opinionated victim who got on my nerves with her whining about being victimized and ‘All MALE are pigs’ dogma who fires the only man who was good enough to protect her, and then gets kidnapped. Thank GOD for Spenser and his dialogues!!!
So, why did I like reading it? Well does anyone need a better reason than Spenser? The book had Spenser in it, so were his lines. No need for a better reason for liking the book. The omnibus edition I was reading had a caption which said “Before Reacher there was Spenser” which I totally disagreed with. Reacher is Reacher, and Spenser being Spenser is a class apart. I like Reacher, but I worship Spenser. At times the Lee Child man comes as too unbelievable to believe that all he says and does can make sense even as a work of fiction, but that’s not the case with Spenser. Every line, every action attributed to this man makes me believe that had there been a real man called Spenser, he would have been churning out the same lines as written in the pages.
And, lastly the pace. Yes the plot was bland, but the pace was too good to turn the book into a yawnathon. Every crime writer should take a lesson from this man as to how to write a book this fast. I did not enjoy ‘Promised Land’ either but even with that book the pace blew me apart. Time by time Robert B. Parker is becoming one of my favorite authors, and thank god I still have ‘Hush Money’ on my shelves ready to be read.