Robert B. Parker’s Slow Burn, by Ace Atkins ISBN 9780399170850
While this novel contains much of the spark of the characteristic Spenser dialog, the ending is rather flat, there is a major unresolved issue between Spenser, Hawk and a very bad criminal type. Furthermore, there has been a lengthy buildup to a final physical battle between Spenser and what may be the toughest man he ever fought. Perhaps the only character to appear in the series that can physically challenge Hawk.
The main plot is that of a small group of men that believe the way to support the local fire departments is to light up buildings so that the inadequacy of their equipment will be exposed. Some firefighters die in an ambiguous fire and one of their friends asks Spenser to investigate. The firebugs are a combination of clever and rather hopeless, naive wannabes.
The second main plot device is the changing of the criminal powers in the Boston area. Joe Broz, Gino Fish and Tony Marcus are all out of action and others have risen to fill the void. Vinnie Morris now runs one criminal organization but the growing power is Jackie DeMarco. Just as ruthless as his predecessors, DeMarco lacks any willingness to cooperate when the circumstances create a mutually beneficial opportunity. On the bright side, we are introduced to the female Captain Glass, a no-nonsense hard case with a verbal bite that can stand up to Spenser.
If you welcome the titanic battle of resolution at the end, this story will disappoint. When it ends the immediate thought is that this is but the first of a two-part series. The stage has been set for the major battle, but it ends with Z leaving for the West Coast and Hawk somewhere in France, with Spenser and Susan having a quiet meal. The situation seems perfect for someone to break the door down.