Spenser, American’s best known private eye of the 1980’s, has to save his onetime lover Susan Silverman from a wealthy villain. At stake is not only Spenser’s intense belief in the unwritten code of the private detective but also his future with (or without) Susan, who still loves the man who holds her captive. Spenser once again enlists his friend Hawk, a black contract enforcer.
The narrative swings from West to East coasts and involves Spenser in acts of lawbreaking which do not affect his conscience, and acts of violence which do. Before the affair is over, the CIA (or some more secret organization?) is involved, and the future of the country is at stake along with Spenser’s personal ethics, his love for Susan, his and Hawk’s life, and the fates of numerous villains.
The action and suspense scenes are as exciting as ever: No current detective novelist surpasses Parker in this respect. The shaky status of Spenser’s relations to Susan come off rather worse. For one thing, she must herself seek counseling this time, whereas she has been the psychically stronger of the pair in the past. For another, the reader finds a continuing discussion of Spenser’s “real” nature: Is he loving and caring? The idea is to present the reader with the sensitive (or at least sensitized) private detective: Some readers may think that Spenser has evolved instead into a macho wimp.
Parker’s talents are undeniable and Spenser fans will not want to miss this book. Yet some readers can be forgiven for recalling that the glorious private detectives of the Golden Age kept description of feelings to a bearable minimum.
If the title seems vaguely familiar, it is from Herman Melville’s MOBY DICK, the quotation can be found at the head of the book.