ROBERT B. PARKER'S OLD BLACK MAGIC  by Ace Atkins

ROBERT B. PARKER'S OLD BLACK MAGIC

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Twenty years after a storied theft from a Boston institution—no, not the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—the powers that be want Spenser, another Boston institution, to recover three stolen artworks that are still missing.

Spenser, who wouldn’t be interested in the Winthrop Museum’s problems if Locke, a dying colleague who’s been keeping an eye on it for two decades, hadn’t entreated him, agrees to grab the reins even though he’s not crazy about temperamental Winthrop director Marjorie Ward Phillips, and museum board chairman Topper Townsend’s not crazy about him. The real prize among the three is El Greco’s The Gentleman in Black, valued at $60 million to $70 million. But it’s the promise that by paying $500,000 she can buy back one of the others, an early Picasso drawing, that hooks Large Marj into agreeing to a trade-off that goes predictably awry, leaving Spenser with undeserved egg on his face. Replaced by Townsend’s choice, Paul Marston, a British private investigator as objectionable as he is incompetent, Spenser, now free to pursue the standing $5 million reward the museum’s offered, works his contacts twice as hard. Certain that the crooks must have been amateurs who had inside help, he soon starts to see connections between the perps and the Boston mob. The trouble is that it’s been so long since the job was pulled that the cops who originally worked the case for the Boston PD and the FBI are mostly retired. Even worse, the mob has gone through even more personnel changes, and the guys most likely to know anything about the heist have long been unavailable for questioning.

The case gets successively murkier, but Atkins, in his best imitation of Parker’s voice to date, never gets lazy. Readers who approach the last chapter anticipating relief at finally seeing the case solved should be warned that a final twist virtually guarantees a sequel.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-399-17701-9
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2018




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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