Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Review of "Paper Doll," by Robert B. Parker

Review of
Paper Doll, by Robert B. Parker ISBN 0399138188

Five out of five stars
 While there is very little of the characteristic Spenser action in this story and almost no Hawk, there is a great deal of Susan and many plot twists, some of which are clear to the reader very early in the book. Olivia Tripp, the wife of Loudon Tripp, is brutally murdered by hammer blows and the police investigation goes nowhere, they have taken the unpleasant position that it was a random act of violence.
 Loudon hires Spenser to investigate and it is clear from the beginning that there is much too much neatness in the family. The two children seem perfect and Loudon is insistent that their marriage was one of extreme happiness. Even the house seems far too neat and tidy when Spenser is given a tour. In typical Spenser style, he probes, annoys and presses until the pressure causes a response that gives him some direction.
 Very little is as it first appears, including the identities of the victim and her family.  Spenser gets into deep trouble and this time it is Martin Quirk that bails him out. As expected, Spenser solves the case, yet it is hard to discern the culprit until close to the end, yet the ending is very satisfactory, as a major figure is brought to justice.
 Another interesting aspect of this story relates to a gay police officer whose companion dies of AIDS. Parker treats the situation with great compassion and sympathy, something quite unusual for 1993, the year the book was originally published. People knowledgeable of the history of the time will understand how far ahead of his time Parker was on this. The great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov died of AIDS acquired through a blood transfusion in 1992, yet that information was kept secret out of concern for negative repercussions.
 Even though many of the regular features of Spenser stories are absent in this one, the dialog remains great and Spenser is once again the thuggish white knight.

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