Parker continues his high rebound (begun with his Chandleresque Poodle Springs and last year's Spenser yarn, Stardust) with a sequel to Early Autumn (1980) that's even more vibrant than the original, which Spenser fans will remember as one of the Boston p.i.'s most personal, resonant cases. In Early Autumn, Spenser tutored lost-teen Paul Giacomin in the ways of manhood. Now 25, Paul's still not quite grown up and is again asking Spenser's help--to find Paul's weak-willed mom. Paul's need to confront his mom about why she left home without notice proves the crucible for his true coming of age--a transformation echoed in Spenser's revelations (unique to the series) about his own young adulthood, and mirrored in the parallel attempt by wild young hoodlum Gerry Broz to step into the shoes of his top-mobster dad, Joe Broz. After some low-key sleuthing (much in the company of a winsome dog), Spenser learns that Paul's man-crazy mom has run off with a lowlife who's stolen a million-plus from Gerry--and that Joe, determined that his son show himself man enough to one day take over the mob, is demanding that Gerry get it back. As usual, Spenser's girlfriend Susan hovers around the case, exchanging the usual pompous endearments with the p.i. ("there's a kind of purity about you," she says. "Everything is inner-directed"); and Spenser's shadow-side, Hawk, provides some minor support--but the emotionally tense focus here is on male passages, centering in a gripping test of Spenser's own manhood as he is shot and must escape through the woods with murderous Gerry and a pack of mobsters at his heels, and climaxing in a cathartic shootout as Gerry, backed by a distraught Joe, guns for Spenser-and for his own chance to be a man. Vintage hard-core Spenser--told in burnished prose, skimpy on the mystery-detection but rich in soul-satisfying macho action and in the mystique of the p.i.