Robert B(rown) Parker 1932–
Parker's crime fiction places him as a prominent contemporary author within the hard-boiled tradition of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross Macdonald. His best known works form a series consisting of nine novels, beginning with The Godwulf Manuscript (1973), and featuring Spenser, a tough but compassionate private-eye trained not only in espionage but also in gourmet cooking, physical fitness, and literature. One of Spenser's most endearing qualities is his sometimes self-depreciating but always witty sense of humor.
Parker wrote his dissertation on Hammett, Chandler, and Macdonald and although he knows the private eye tradition well, his success is largely based on the contemporary tone he maintains while remaining true to the conventions of the genre. Along with the standard element of suspense, Parker's emphasis lies in character development, through dialogue as much as through action, and the incorporation of social themes, most notably the distortion of the American dream.
Promised Land (1977), the fourth Spenser novel, was awarded the Edgar Allan Poe Award. Ironically, some critics feel this is one of his weaker works. For example, David Geherin, who acknowledges Parker's usual strength in characterization and dialogue, finds "an overemphasis on character analysis and an excessive talkiness that upsets the novelistic balance in Promised Land…."
(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 49-52 and Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 1.)