Wednesday, January 20, 2010

‘Spenser’ Novelist Robert Parker Dies

Writers are dropping like flies. First it was Erich Segal, now it's Robert Parker:
Robert Parker, the author of the popular "Spenser" novels about a hard-nosed Boston private investigator, has died. He was 77.

A spokeswoman for the Cambridge police department says an ambulance was sent to Parker's home at about 11 a.m. Monday for reports of a sudden death. The spokeswoman, Alexa Manocchio, says the death was of "natural causes" and is not considered suspicious.

A publicist for Parker's publisher confirmed the death but had no further details.

Here's more about Parker:
In the past quarter century, it could be said, no writer of private-eye fiction was more popular or prolific than Robert B. Parker, who died Monday at the age of 77. His nearly 40 books involving the no-first-name Boston P.I. Spenser—starting in 1973 with "The Godwulf Manuscript" and ending, it would seem, with "The Professional," published three months ago—made the Massachusetts-born Mr. Parker a best-selling author and a household-name in all homes where mystery fiction was consumed.

Building on aspects developed by illustrious predecessors (aspects he studied as the author of a doctoral dissertation on the private eye in American fiction)—the bantering dialogue of Raymond Chandler, the concern for young people expressed by Ross Macdonald, the swift action of Dashiell Hammett, even the violence of Mickey Spillane—Mr. Parker created a hero and a series of books that revivified the P.I. genre, making it fresh and viable through the end of the 20th century and into the next.

I've read a few of the Spenser books and a couple of the Jessie Stone books. I never followed the Spenser TV series but I caught the Stone TV movies with Tom Selleck and they're a good fit for him.

Huh. I see I was a bit harsh on the movie Appaloosa that was based on Parker's book - and I may have been harsher on Parker in that review than I feel about him now that he's died. If you were wanting to start in on a series character by a solid writer, you could do worse than Parker. As for me, he just might be worth a second look.

(And for writers, I like this from Parker in the above linked article:
But Mr. Parker—whose oeuvre also included series with a small-town sheriff, Jesse Stone, and a woman P.I. named Sunny Randall, as well as a handful of westerns and other novels—of course had a very real job, working five days a week turning out five pages a day. "It's like running a small business," he told fellow writer Stuart Kaminsky, adding: "'Writer's block? That's just another word for 'lazy.'"

Okay, definitely worth a second look.)

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