Robert B. Parker was heir to the tradition of the hard-boiled detective most notably embodied in Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. Parker’s Spenser is principled and honorable but not a loner like Chandler’s Marlowe. Spenser has a monogamous relationship with an intelligent and liberated woman, Susan Silverman, and he is ably assisted by Hawk, a formidable African American who is less principled but just as honorable as Spenser. In 1976 Parker received the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Promised Land (1976). In 1995, Parker and John Lutz jointly received the Eye, a lifetime achievement award from the Private Eye Writers of America. In 2002 Parker was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. In 2006 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention.
In addition to his detective series, Parker wrote three mainstream novels, Wilderness (1979), Love and Glory (1983), and All Our Yesterdays (1994). Critics have described them as thoughtful and well written but flawed, and they have not achieved the popularity of his detective series. Parker’s Spenser series has been optioned for television and films, and he acted as a consultant for the television series Spenser for Hire (1985-1988). In 2005-2007, several novels in the Jesse Stone series were turned into television films starring Tom Selleck. Parker’s female detective, Sunny Randall, was created because he was asked to write a novel that could be adapted as a film vehicle for Helen Hunt, the Academy Award-winning actress.