Themes

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The major theme of all Spenser novels is Spenser's attempt to assert and reaffirm his romantic code of values in a hostile and resisting world. In Chance, Spenser's actions show many of the principles of his code: His independence is asserted in his refusal to allow Ventura to dictate the terms of his investigation, and in his defiance of Marty Anaheim; his ability to defend himself is displayed in his killing of two of three Russian hitmen who attack on Commonwealth Avenue and his climactic beating of Marty Anaheim; his love for Susan and loyalty to her is reaffirmed through their trip together and through Spenser's resistance to the charms of other women; finally, Spenser's tireless efforts to aid the relatively innocent, even at the risk of his life, are illustrated by his rescue of Bibi Anaheim from the power of her brutal husband.

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Parker is not always successful in his efforts—fueled by a mixture of professionalism and chivalric idealism—to rescue or protect the innocent. Although he recognizes the weaknesses of Shirley Ventura Meeker, one of his initial clients, he is unable to prevent her murder. However, Spenser does manage to see Marty Anaheim arrested and convicted for this murder.

Other themes of Chance include the attempt by Bibi to escape her unfortunate marriage, and find an independent life, and the uncertain conflict surrounding the power struggle in the Boston underworld. Finally, Parker's scornful portrait—presented through Spenser's narrative of Las Vegas as a pretentious but decadent center of a moral wasteland is a subtext of the novel.

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Characters