Walking Shadow, by Robert B. Parker ISBN 0399139206
Five out of five stars
The strength of this book is the dialog and the supporting characters. Susan is one of the board of directors of the Port City Theater Company and the director claims that he is being followed. As a “favor” to her, Spenser agrees to consider the case and accompanies Susan to a performance. The situation immediately gets ratcheted up when an actor is shot and killed in the middle of a performance.
Port City is a town with a long past with several ethnic groups well-segregated. Along the sea are the fishermen of Portuguese extraction and on the hill live the wealthy whites. Between them live the Asians, run by a Chinese organized crime syndicate backed by young Vietnamese men that are emotionless and ruthless killers.
Realizing the significant danger, Spenser brings in Hawk and Vinnie Morris as backup, allowing for a great deal of interactive dialog between the three of them and Susan. It is snappy, intelligent and humorous, you find yourself wishing the scenes were a little bit longer. Spenser is forced to delve deeply into the structure of the “Chinese business,” the way that things are run by crime bosses in the Chinese-American culture.
This is a convoluted plot with players that pretend to be many things, some of which are odd. Hawk sums it up well when he tells Spenser, “This is the silliest thing you ever got me involved in.” Yet, it is a good story with a conclusion that wraps up the case with no dangling unknowns.