An irresistible new crime novel that will captivate both longtime and soon-to-be-devoted Spenser lovers. In this, Parker's 26th novel (Paper Doll, 1993, etc.), the private investigator returns to delight readers with his sexy and literate brand of hardball-goofball that rightfully has gained him his faithful following. Spenser is back in Port City, Mass., a drizzly waterfront town, at the request of his girlfriend, Susan, to investigate a stalking. Since the victim, the indigent artistic director of the Port City Theater Company, cannot afford to pay Spenser, he works for double his "usual fee" -- four nights of passion with Susan, a price that she is happy to pay. Soon, Spenser's attention is diverted by the murder of one of the company's actors. He enlists the aid of Hawk, that frightening teddy bear of a man. In the course of his investigation Spenser clashes with a Chinese Mafia family and narrowly misses becoming a murder victim himself. But, as Spenser warns his prospective murderers, he is not so easy to kill. He manages to remain standing through two more killings, a kidnapping, and another stalking, all of which he handles with the usual aplomb. The various crimes are related in a potentially confusing web, but Spenser skillfully guides the reader through the complex plot. The reader understands everything just moments after Spenser does, which for all his modesty happens pretty quickly. Like Spenser says, he solves all of his cases -- "some of them are just not solved yet." Spenser approaches his crime-busting activities with a charming blend of earnestness and self-parody. He is by turns arrogant and humble and he has no trouble coming home from a hard day foiling crime to whip up a delectable meal for his successful shrink girlfriend. Now, that's class.