I was stunned by an email I received early Tuesday afternoon. Literally stunned.
It was from someone in one of my yahoo-groups, and the subject line said it all: “[spenser] He’s gone”.
Robert B Parker, author of nearly 40 novels in the Spenser series, passed away at home in Cambridge, MA (working at his desk) on January 18 at the age of 77.
Dr Parker was a master of brisk, witty dialogue, which made his books a quick read and often hard to put down. The banter between Spenser and his friend/leg breaker/cohort Hawk would often have me laughing out loud. Spenser made it to television, starting a three year run in 1985 with Spenser: For Hire, starring Robert Urich in the title role and Avery Brooks as Hawk (who some, myself included, consider to have been made for the part).
Along with Boston PI Spenser, Parker’s other series include alcoholic ex-LA cop turned small town Police Chief Jesse Stone (played in TV movies by Tom Selleck), female PI Sunny Randall (also from Boston), the Western adventures of Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, and two recent ‘young adult’ novels.
A few years ago, my fiancee Laurel and I took a trip to Boston/Cambridge and made one day a “Spenser Day”. We took in Boston Common and the Public Garden, crossed Arlington Street to stroll Marlborough, the Mall on Commonwealth and the stores on Newbury. We made our way to the Park Street T-Stop at the Common, where the opening scene of the Spenser: For Hire pilot, Promised Land, plays out, followed by a few steps up Tremont Street to the Old Granary Burial Grounds (where Spenser ends up shooting the huge stone marking the grave of Benjamin Franklin’s parents in the same scene – no marks on it now, thanks to special effects ;) ).
We then visited Faneuil Hall and got a bite to eat at Quincy Market before heading back to Cambridge to take a stroll down Dr Parker’s street, hoping to catch a glimpse of the writer himself (no luck). Laurel remembered his house from the back of the dust cover of one of his books; I thought it was a different one.
I never met the man; never wrote him to say thanks for his work. I really wish he’d been in his yard that day so I could have given him a quick wave of appreciation.
Rest in peace, Sir.