Reviewed by Gloria Feit
For some reason I had not read this entry in the Spenser series created by Robert B. Parker, but have finally caught up to it, I’m delighted to say.
From the publisher: Connie Kelly thought she’d found her perfect man on an online dating site. He was silver-haired and handsome, with a mysterious background working for the CIA. She fell so hard for M. Brooks Welles that she wrote him a check for almost three hundred thousand dollars, hoping for a big return on her investment. But within weeks, both Wells and her money are gone. Her therapist, Dr. Susan Silverman, hands her Spenser’s card. A self-proclaimed military hotshot, Welles had been a frequent guest on national news shows, speaking with authority about politics and world events. But when he disappears, he leaves not only a jilted lover but a growing list of angry investors, duped cops, and a team of paramilitary contractors looking for revenge. Enter Spenser, who quickly discovers that everything about Welles is phony. His name, his resume, and his roster of associates are nothing but an elaborate fraud. But uncovering the truth won’t be easy, as he’ll have to keep his client from falling back into the mystery man’s tangled web, all while staying a step ahead of trained killers. As the trail winds from Boston to the back roads of Georgia, Spenser will need help from trusted allies Hawk and Tedy Sapp to make sure Welles’s next con is his last.
The author has captured many of the expected patterns of Robert B. Parker’s writing. (Mr. Parker died in January 2010.) But Mr. Atkins, besides giving us a very absorbing tale, has retained some of the most typical Parker patterns, e.g., nearly every character’s choice of clothing and headgear is noted, particularly caps declaring the owner’s love for a particular local sports team, whether Braves or Red Sox. Connie Kelly’s early appearance notes that she “was dressed in a white sleeveless silk top with a black pencil skirt adorned with chrysanthemums and a pair of black open-toe heels that highlighted her shapely calves. Her toes had been painted a festive red.” In her next appearance “she wore a very short red floral dress and black tights with black suede booties,” with a purple cardigan. She explains what attracted her to Mr. Welles thusly: “I wanted a tall, successful, and interesting man. Someone who liked to travel and took time to enjoy sunsets.” Well, she got all of that and a lot more that she could have done without. Spenser is now living in the area of the Charlestown Navy Yard, where Pearl the Wonder Dog keeps him delightful company.
This is another exciting entry in the series, thoroughly entertaining, and highly recommended.
Next up for this reviewer is the next in the series by Mr. Atkins, another Spenser novel, Old Black Magic.