Spenser, who’s become increasingly inclined to retrospection (Hundred-Dollar Baby, 2006, etc.), uses a brush with domestic terrorists to settle a 20-year-old score with Susan Richman.
Whatever is bothering his wife, FBI agent Dennis Doherty is certain it isn’t sex. And he’s right. Professor Jordan Richmond isn’t a bit bothered by the frequent sex she’s having with visiting professor Perry Alderson—at least not until Spenser gets her and Alderson on tape and plays a strategically edited version of it for her husband. In short order, the cheating wife is dead and the husband is dead, and the hit man who shot the wife is dead at the hands of the colleague Spenser had assigned to tail her. And that’s not the worst of it. Doherty dies without learning that the part of the tape he didn’t hear revealed that his wife’s pillow talk included classified information about his job, and that her lover is an agitator whose organization, Last Hope, aims to hook violent protesters up with materiel. The Boston FBI wants to know how deeply compromised the Bureau has been by Jordan’s affair. But Spenser, focused on taking down Alderson himself to resolve his feelings about Susan’s long-ago infidelity, hijacks the red-hot political plot down Memory Lane.
Parker never reveals Last Hope’s nefarious plans. Even so, the first half, before the manly stuff sends the tale up a blind alley, is something special.