Saturday, October 26, 2013

Silent Night: A Spenser Holiday Novel by Robert B. Parker and Helen Brann

One of the final projects begun by author Robert B. Parker before his death in 2010 was this novel featuring his ageless sleuth Spenser helping a homeless boy during the Christmas season. Parker wrote only 17 pages before his passing, and since the book was under contract, his longtime agent Helen Brann stepped in to finish the novel, with the consent of Parker’s family.

To my surprise, Brann captures the voice of Spenser almost perfectly, as well as those of Susan and Hawk. In fact, Brann may write a better Spenser than Ace Atkins, the author selected to carry on the series. There are no real surprises in the book (just as there were none in Parker’s last several novels). On the other hand, I never read the books for their innovative plots. Like most of Spenser's readers, I came back for the characters and Parker's unique authorial voice.

Speaking of the plot, Brann handles the story pretty well, including the requisite holiday moments that aren’t nearly as out of place as I’d feared.

The one facet of the book where I found Brann lacking was the action scenes, which are light on detail. Despite that, the novel stands on its own, as good as the last few Parker-written Spensers. It was nice to revisit these beloved characters again, particularly knowing the book contains Parker’s last few Spenser pages.

It wouldn’t break my heart if Brann alternated with Atkins on future Spenser novels.

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