Pastime, by Robert B. Parker ISBN 0425132935
Five out of five stars
This is likely the most revealing of the Spenser novels, we not only learn a great deal about his childhood, but also discover that not even Susan knows much about his past. We learn that Spenser grew up in an all-male household by men that did not have a lot of formal education but appreciated it more than most in that situation.
We also learn about the hunter’s code when Spenser recounts the encounter that he and his father had with a bear while hunting birds. It was a father-son bonding moment, ending in an underage boy being given a strong alcoholic drink.
Aspects of the code of understanding between the gangsters and the people that stand against them. It is summarized when Vinnie Morris, then working as an efficient hired gun for Joe Broz, encounters Spenser. As they talk, Spenser thinks, “Vinnie may kill you, but he will not lie to you.”
We also learn of the first encounter between Spenser and Hawk, which took place in the boxing ring. Apparently, it was quite a bout, because Hawk mentions how it wore him out. Their friendship was cemented shortly after the fight, when Spenser came to Hawk’s aid when he is accosted by a group of racist men. They never fought each other after that, but often encountered each other in the dressing rooms.
The plot is based on the disappearance of Paul Giacomin’s mother and his desire to find her and determine if she is all right. She has run off with a man that worked for Joe Broz and betrayed him. Broz is after him with the goal being to kill him and that puts Spenser and Broz at odds.
A great deal of the plot is also taken up with describing the adventures of Pearl, the wonder dog. A great deal of ink is expended in describing her life and the love that others have for her. This is without question one of the best Spenser novels.