Robert B. Parker's Someone to Watch Over Me
by Ace Atkins
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Pub Date 15 Apr 2021 | Archive Date 15 Apr 2021
Oldcastle Books, No Exit Press
In the latest Spenser thriller, the legendary Boston PI and his young protégé Mattie Sullivan take on billionaire money manager running a network of underaged girls for his rich and powerful clients
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.
Soon Spenser and Mattie find ties between the exploitation of dozens of other girls from working class families to an eccentric billionaire and his sadistic henchwoman with a mansion on Commonwealth Avenue. The mystery man's wealth, power and connections extend well beyond Massachusetts - maybe even beyond the United States. Spenser and trusted ally Hawk must again watch out for Mattie as she unravels a massive sex-trafficking ring that will take them from Boston to Boca Raton to the Bahamas, crossing paths with local toughs, a highly-trained security company, and an old enemy of Spenser - the Gray Man - for a final epic showdown.
Praise for the Spenser series
'A wildly entertaining novel... Fast-paced and thrilling with just the right amounts of humor and pathos' - Criminal Element
'In this latest in his continuation of Robert B. Parker’s beloved Spenser series, Atkins continues to do the late author proud… The talented Atkins delivers another engrossing thriller' - Booklist
'Parker keeps kicking in Atkins's capable hands' - Library Journal
'Handpicked by the Parker estate to be the keeper of the flame for the Spenser franchise, award-winning author Ace Atkins rises flawlessly to the occasion' - Kirkus Reviews
'Atkins emulates Parker's style and dry humor flawlessly' - Publishers Weekly
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 8 members
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.
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.
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.
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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