Not even Spenser’s formidable gifts are equal to the problems posed by a charming blackmailer who kisses and threatens to tell.
At least four women—Abigail Larson, Beth Jackson, Regina Hartley and Nancy Sinclair—have been photographed and tape-recorded trysting with Gary Eisenhower. Their only regret is that if he doesn’t get $25,000 a month from each of them, he’ll go to their older, wealthier husbands. While they’re fretting about their limited options and Spenser is tracking the lover they shared to Pinnacle Fitness, one of the husbands, tough-guy financier Chester Jackson, gets wind of Spenser’s inquiries and takes matters into his own hands, sending a pair of goons after Boston’s favorite detective. Spenser can deal with the goons, at least at first, but he can’t deal with Eisenhower, who blandly admits that he likes sleeping with married women, lots of them, and likes raising money from his amours even better. At length Spenser succeeds in orchestrating the kind of pressure necessary to make Eisenhower back down. But by then the case has already started to spiral, like so many of the PI’s recent outings (Rough Weather, 2008, etc.), into something darker and more violent, something Spenser doesn’t know any better how to deal with. Even after three characters have died and he’s certain who killed them, he still can’t figure out how “to make everything come out okay.”
Though Parker’s flagship sleuth doesn’t distinguish himself as either a detective or a problem-solver, his bewildered uncertainty is more touching and revealing than his customary machismo.