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And the beat goes on.

Handpicked by the Parker estate to be keeper of the flame for the Spenser franchise, award-winning author Ace Atkins (The Ranger, 2011, etc.) rises flawlessly to the occasion. In addition to the signature dialogue, all the familiars are fully resurrected: Susan, the sexy shrink; Pearl, the wonder dog; Hawk, the wonder sidekick; good cop Quirk, and, of course, Spenser himself, that consummate knight errant for the 21st century. So there he is, Boston’s premier peeper (Sixkill, 2011, etc.), laid-back as ever but—now that the torch has been passed—clearly ready to be engaged for the 40th time. At the moment he is atypically solvent thanks to a big fat check from a white-shoe law firm, earned, he acknowledges a bit guiltily, without breaking a sweat. Enter 14-year-old Mattie Sullivan, a waif with an attitude. He’s charmed by her toughness, smarts, pink Boston Red Sox cap and the essential cuteness lurking beneath all that faux flintiness. Four years ago, she tells him, her mother was murdered. A suspect was duly arrested, tried, convicted and jailed for the crime—wrongfully, Mattie is now convinced. Will Spenser take the case? Five crumpled 20s are produced in aid of getting him started. Feeling slightly besmirched by his last case, Spenser spurns the 20s and hires on for a box of cinnamon donuts: “Sometimes a few hours of honest work was better than a bar of soap.” Once again, however, on behalf of a damsel in distress, he has miscalculated the attendant danger, also his own invulnerability. Bullets fly, body bags fill and Spenser is lucky indeed not to be tucked into one of them.

Parker fans will like it that the Atkins version is virtually indistinguishable from the prototype.  

Pub Date: May 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-399-15803-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2012

Kirkus Interview
Ace Atkins
June 2, 2015

P.I. Spenser, knight-errant of the Back Bay, returns in Kickback, the latest in the iconic New York Times–bestselling series from author Ace Atkins. What started out as a joke landed 17-year-old Dillon Yates in a lockdown juvenile facility in Boston Harbor. When he set up a prank Twitter account for his vice principal, he never dreamed he could be brought up on criminal charges, but that’s exactly what happened. This is Blackburn, Massachusetts, where zero tolerance for minors is a way of life. Leading the movement is tough-as-nails Judge Joe Scali, who gives speeches about getting tough on today’s wild youth. But Dillon’s mother, who knows other Blackburn kids who are doing hard time for minor infractions, isn’t buying Scali’s line. She hires Spenser to find the truth behind the draconian sentencing. “It’s great to see Spenser tackle a social evil with its roots in real life,” our reviewer writes. View video >


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