Taming a Sea-horse

TAMING A SEA-HORSE is the thirteenth mystery to feature Robert B. Parker’s popular detective, Spenser. One of the most engaging characters in current detective fiction, the Boston-based private eye follows adroitly in the footsteps of such classic gumshoes as Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, mixing two-fisted violence with dry, tongue-in-cheek quips.

Literate, witty, and lethally fast on his feet, Spenser is a seeming study in contrasts; a gourmet cook who pumps iron, quotes song lyrics, and retains a soft spot in his street-wise heart for life’s victims. Possessed of an unspoken code of honor coupled with an unflinching grasp of the world’s harsh realities, he confronts danger and corruption with a unique blend of intelligence, humor, and sheer brute strength.

Spenser’s latest case has its roots in one of Parker’s earlier books, CEREMONY, in which the detective searched for a runaway school-girl who had become a prostitute in Boston’s red-light district. That book ended on a controversial note, with Spenser introducing the girl, April Kyle, to a New York madam who ran an elegant--and therefore relatively “safe"--brothel.

TAMING A SEA-HORSE finds April in trouble once again when she leaves the brothel with a sinister pimp, and her trail leads Spenser to another young prostitute named Ginger. When both girls subsequently disappear and the pimp himself is badly beaten, Spenser realizes that the case may have repercussions far beyond the immediate danger to his own life. With advice from his psychologist girlfriend, Susan, and the help of his loyal friend, Hawk, he sets out to unravel a sordid tangle of clues that stretches from New York to the Virgin Islands.

Parker’s terse, fast-paced style is ideally suited to his subject, and, like his earlier novels, TAMING A SEAHORSE excels in character development and vivid descriptions. Admirers of the Spenser series and fans of hard-boiled detective stories should welcome this latest addition to the private eye’s growing list of cases.