Spenser, who seems to alternate these days between meaty cases and time-passers, follows School Days (2005) with a thin tale of trouble among high-class prostitutes whose only distinction is bringing back a familiar face from the past.
Twenty-five years ago, Spenser rescued runaway teen April Kyle by the unorthodox means of placing her with upscale Manhattan madam Patricia Utley (Ceremony, 1982). When April ran off from her second home, Spenser was on hand to save her again (Taming a Sea-Horse, 1986). Now April, who looks great despite all the miles she’s got on her, wants his help fending off the bad guys trying to horn in on the Back Bay brothel she runs. It’s the work of a moment for Spenser and Hawk to send the hired bullyboys on their way, of course, but Ollie DeMars, the Southie crew chief who hired them, won’t say who paid him to lean on April. Spenser’s hunch is that it’s Lionel Farnsworth, an ex-client of April’s who’s already done time for real-estate fraud. But something doesn’t add up. April’s business just isn’t generating enough trade to be worth the trouble of stealing. Is somebody lying to Spenser? Yes. Just about everybody, as he realizes over and over and over until the curtain finally comes down with a bang.
Spenser’s detective chops are less in evidence than his messiah complex. Even the dialogue, always Parker’s specialty, sounds suspiciously like Elmore Leonard.