Friday, March 26, 2021

Review of "Painted Ladies," by Robert B. Parker

 Review of

Painted Ladies, by Robert B. Parker, ISBN 9781594134784

Four out of five stars

This is the second to last Spenser novel written by Robert B. Parker and it has Spenser working on his own. While he is in grave danger, in this case Spenser chooses to go it alone rather than request the assistance of one of his many backups.

 The story opens with art expert Dr. Ashton Prince entering Spenser’s office requesting his assistance. A famous painting has been stolen and is being held for ransom. Since the thieves have said that they will destroy the painting if the police are involved, Prince wants Spenser to go along to the payoff as protection. When Prince is killed by a bomb, Spenser decides to continue on the case in order to atone for his failure.

 The story proceeds along the usual lines of a Spenser novel, at first he knows nothing, and he simply pushes and prods until something happens. When two assassins try to kill him, he realizes that he is on the proper track. The story stretches all the way back to World War II and the artwork that the Germans stole from wealthy Jews. There is an organization that is trying to recover the artworks and return them to the rightful owners. Their methods are not always on the right side of the legal and ethical ledgers.

 It is a good story, yet I found myself missing Hawk. Unlike many of the other stories, there is no mention of the gangland bosses that were so integral a part of so many plots. In this case, the sidekick role is played by a combination of Quirk and Belsen. Since the plot deeply involves the Holocaust and Jewish survivors and Susan is of course Jewish, there is a great deal of references to actions of World War II. While these aspects are well explained, those unfamiliar with those times may find themselves a bit puzzled.

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