Cover Image: Robert B. Parker's Someone to Watch Over Me

Robert B. Parker's Someone to Watch Over Me

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Member Reviews

Ninth in the series, Spenser, along with his sidekick Mattie, is trying to find who has murdered a young girl Chloe ( an old friend of Matties) and uncovers a link to an international crime gang run by a billionaire. 
Mattie, like Spenser, is quite gung ho and rushes into some very dangerous situations to find those responsible..
Reminiscent of current underage sex crime stories they uncover some really disgusting people and difficult situations.
Disturbing at times but well written.
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'Someone To Watch Over Me' by Ace Atkins.
 Ten years ago, Spenser helped a teenage girl named Mattie Sullivan find her mother’s killer and take down an infamous Southie crime boss. Now Mattie – a college student with a side job working for the tough but tender private eye – dreams of being an investigator herself. Her first big case involves a fifteen-year-old girl assaulted by a much older man at one of Boston’s most prestigious private clubs. The girl, Chloe Turner, only wants the safe return of her laptop and backpack. But like her mentor and boss, Mattie has a knack for asking the right questions of the wrong people. As the case unravels the simple beginning soon turns into something much deeper and darker than they would have thought. It also stretches further than they could imagine... can Spenser and Mattie, with the help of Spensers friend Hawk get to the bottom of this before Spensers old enemy can fulfill his promise?
 A book written in a series but I picked this up and read it with no confusion at all. It is not an overly large book at just over 200 pages and I flew through it in no time. The storyline is highly reminiscent of a scandal that broke out in the not too distant past. I was invested in the story as soon as I read the first page. 
 Spenser and Mattie are two strong and very unique characters who played their parts immaculately. The snarkiness of Spenser has definitely rubbed off on his student. They both had me sniggering throughout. I was totally with Spenser and Mattie throughout the book and as  the investigation played out the twists that came I would never have guessed. 
 This book has given me a taste of Spenser and Mattie and I am now checking the other books in the series, such an easy, exciting and fun read too.
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This is a strange one, and no mistake. Not the book itself, which is perfectly readable, but the title. Mainly because the one thing it isn't is Robert B Parker's. It's Ace Atkins, re-imagining the world of the tough wise-cracking Boston PI, Spenser. I suppose it must be some legal stipulation from the estate of Spenser's creator (1932-2010), but it certainly makes for an unwieldy title. I was a huge fan of the forty canonical Spenser novels and, also, the equally readable Jesse Stone and Sunny Randall books, but let's remember that Spenser was himself something of a reinvention of Philip Marlowe: a few decades later, for sure, more up for a fist fight, but still with a good line in wise-cracks and sarcastic put-downs. Unlike Marlowe, however, Spenser had a reliable repertory company of helpers, notably his alluring psychologist girlfriend Susan and the implacable and intimidating Hawk.

So, to the novel. The characters are all present and correct including (regrettably, as far as I am concerned) the latest manifestation of the dog Pearl. Pearl and her little ways used to irritate me in the original books but, to be fair, Spenser simply wouldn't be Spenser without the doggy love, so Ace Atkins gets a reluctant star for authenticity. Spenser is asked to investigate a sex crime. Not his normal bread and butter, but a very much under-age friend of a friend has been used and abused by someone much richer and infinitely more powerful. Peter Steiner and Poppy Palmer are disgustingly rich - and have disgusting moral values. To put it bluntly, Peter likes under-age girls, and Poppy likes that he likes them, and gets her kicks from sucking them into their decadent whirlpool.

The Steiners are also well-connected. Politicians great and small, financiers, socialites, fund-raisers - mostly anyone who is anyone in Boston and further afield - all tip their hats to the Steiners. Neither does it hurt that the Steiners' clout enables them to hire serious muscle from the criminal underworld and, as most of the child rape is conducted on a private island somewhere in the vicinity of the Bahamas, neither the Boston Police Department nor the FBI can do anything to intervene.

Spenser is, if nothing else, an extremely moral man, and the plight of the youngsters stirs him to put his hands into the hornets' nest. He has important allies in the shape of two other long-standing members of Spenser Inc. - tough and honest cup Quirk, and the voluptuous campaigning lawyer, Rita Fiore. Despite their authority, however, neither Quirk nor Fiore can lay a glove on the Steiners while they are despoiling young lives on their Caribbean hideaway.

Clearly, in real life, things work differently. Or maybe they don't? Much closer to home we have witnessed the appalling abuse of thousands of young girls across English towns and cities, while those in authority, like the Jew and the Levite in the parable, passed by on the other side. Maybe they weren't swayed by money directly, but their livelihoods in social services, the police and local government would have been under threat if they had done or said "the wrong thing". Back to the fiction, Ace Atkins sets up a terrific finale here, with Spenser and Hawk traveling to an island close to the Steiners' lair. Not only do they face a small army of minders and gunmen, but a man known as Ruger who, a few books ago, bested Spenser and left him for dead.

Spenser's crusade is flawed, however, because someone he counts on is working for the bad guys, and the plans to liberate the youngsters goes pear shaped. Just when you think that this is finally "it" for Spenser and Hawk, something totally unexpected happens and a certain amount of rough justice is meted out. Someone To Watch Over Me is published by Oldcastle Books and is out now.
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Not being a great enthusiast of book series' franchises being continued by other authors, I was ready to dislike Someone to Watch Over Me but I really enjoyed reading it.
It's a while since I read any of the Robert Parker's original books but I think that this book does justice to the spirit of the earlier novels and I'm sure that any similarity to recent news stories involving rich island owning paedophiles is entirely coincidental.
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Someone to Watch Over Me is the forty-eighth novel to feature the tough, smart-talking Boston Private Investigator, Spenser! Almost half a century old and still going strong, the longevity of this series—even after the death of Robert B. Parker years ago—itself is testimony to the brilliance of his creation.

In his ninth appearance penned by Ace Atkins, Spenser’s twenty-two year old protégé called Mattie Sullivan—a recurring character from a previous novel—seeks his help to retrieve the personal belongings of her school friend’s sister from an exclusive club. Expectedly, the relatively simple errand turns into a hunt for a filthy rich paedophile and his female companion who have been preying on underage girls for a long time, protected by some powerful people who share their disgusting idea of fun. The paedophile even owns an island in the Bahamas, away from the reach of the US law enforcement, where he holds captive several girls for his own and his friends' entertainment. Mattie finds more girls willing to talk about their exploitation, and the risk to her life and Spenser’s rises exponentially as a lethal assassin known as The Gray Man, who had almost killed Spenser in their previous encounter, joins the fray.  Dodging multiple attempts on his life, Spenser, with the help of his equally smart-mouthed sidekick, Hawk, takes the attack to the child-molester to expose him and free the imprisoned girls.

The plot of Someone to Watch Over Me is fairly simple, with the identity of the villains disclosed early in the narrative. Though I don’t have much experience with Parker’s original series, I have a feeling that this one fits the template perfectly with the already developed characters, witty dialogues and a brisk plot. The action with words and deeds is nonstop and the twist towards the end is totally unexpected. However, the rushed climax is bit of a dampener to the overall experience. While it is a lot of fun to watch Spenser and Hawk in action, I would have liked to see Mattie in a more substantial role. Also, Spenser’s lover’s feud with his shrink girlfriend, Susan Silverman, about Pearl—his latest pet whom he claims to be the reincarnation of his previous dogs of the same name and breed—is tedious and does not add much to the story.

These minor issues apart, Someone to Watch Over Me is another worthy entry to this beloved series and is a very enjoyable, easy read that will appeal to Spenser fans as well as other thriller lovers. I liked it a lot and am thankful to the author and the publisher of this book, and NetGalley, for the e-ARC in return for my unbiased review.
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Boston private detective Spenser had his first outing in 1973, and as the series fast approaches its fiftieth book it would be tempting to conclude that by now he’d come across as a tired, seen it all has-been who is simply going through the motions. Truth to tell, it feels nothing like that. In 2012 the baton was handed on by the late Robert B. Parker to journalist turned author Ace Atkins, in whose safe hands I believe the series is likely to have legs for some time to come. 

Here Spenser’s young protégé Mattie seeks his guidance on how to deal with an aging Svengali figure who is engaged in grooming and exploiting girls as young as twelve years old. Peter Steiner is rich beyond most people’s understanding and is able to fly young girls to his private island in the Bahamas where he and a group of fellow paedophiles lounge around the pool and accept massages from their young ‘guests’. 

To me, Spenser comes across as a blend of Elvis Cole and Jack Reacher – he’s quick with the lip but even faster with his fists. Along with his regular henchman Hawk and a group of other carry-over characters he helps Mattie to identify further victims of Steiner’s immoral deeds before plotting how to bring them to an end and Steiner to justice. It’s a simple enough story but the return of Spenser’s nemesis, the Grey Man, adds a juicy twist to the tale. 

Fans of hardboiled fiction and returning readers of this series are sure to find plenty to like here. Atkins keeps the plot hustling along pretty well, the dialogue is sharp and witty and the action scenes are deftly handed. Spenser is a likeable character too: yes, he’s a little rough around the edges but he really has a heart of gold. I really enjoyed this adventure and I’ll definitely be seeking out more books from this series.
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I would like to thank Netgalley and Oldcastle Books for an advance copy of Someone to Watch over Me, the fiftieth novel to feature Boston PI, Spenser.

Spenser’s protégée, Mattie Sullivan is all grown up and interested in investigation so she’s working for him part-time. 15 year old Chloe Taylor contacts her for some help. She went to an exclusive men’s club and left in a hurry after a shocking situation, leaving her backpack behind and now the club won’t give it back. Fortunately Spenser is on hand to “advise” Mattie, when their enquiries take a violent turn.

I thoroughly enjoyed Someone to Watch over Me, which is an easy read with a straightforward plot. It is told from Spenser’s point of view so it is easy to get involved and immersed in this latest investigation. It isn’t particularly complicated as it comprises of finding the evidence to prosecute a billionaire paedophile, but it is exciting as he fights back. It draws heavily on the lifestyle of a recent, well publicised case and it’s probably fair to say that this novel would have been regarded as far fetched without this example. None of it is pleasant and the selfishness and cruelty involved is nauseating. Fortunately our characters feel the same way.

I have dipped in and out of this series over the years and I think that Mr Atkins does a fair job of continuing it, but somehow his offerings don’t feel as substantial as Mr Parker’s work. Spenser is still wise cracking and many of the old favourite characters are there, along with the guns and fights, so I can’t identify why I think that. It’s not better or worse, just different, and I still like spending time with Spenser.

Someone to Watch over Me is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.
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