Hundred-Dollar Baby by Robert B. Parker

Read November 2019
Recommended for Spenser fans
★   ★    1/2

Oh goodness, definitely a good thing I was a helicopter parent. Not a good fit for dad. Suddenly I understand why Parker has the Jesse Stone series: as Spenser is the noir-ish (heavy on the -ISH, post-1990) side of mystery, Stone lets him cater to a reader that wants a more lawful sort of experience.

This is the one where Spenser gets a call from someone he helped in the past, first as a deeply troubled and abused teen, then as a call girl. This time, April is running her own house of prostitution in Boston. An unknown person is harassing her and she calls Spenser for help. Spenser, despite having been doing this for at least twenty years by now, remains extraordinarily gullible. Hawk is at his side, however, and keeps him in line. Tony Marcus makes a brief appearance, as does Patricia Utley.

Obviously, the reader needs to be comfortable with all sorts of hypotheticals, although Parker takes pains to make this the rightest of setups. The sex-workers are all women who enjoy sex, working for fun and cash (/eyeroll), April screens her clients and has protections in place so no one does what they don’t agree to, ‘girls’ are medically screened (but not the johns), blah-blah.

In fact, Spenser and Susan are going strong in this one, which gives Susan a chance to psychoanalyze April and the sex-for-money issue for the reader, proving that it is probably exploitative in some manner (I kind of appreciate her leading the reader to that conclusion). We also get to hear a number of times how awesome their relationship is and how healthily they’ve adjusted to bumps in other books. This aspect may prove annoying to fans who have limited Susan tolerance. I will note that she does eat part of a doughnut in this one, as well as cooks some beet risotto, so that’s kind of fun.

These are short, four to five page chapters on the whole, but there’s a great ending, and some even better dynamics between Spenser and Hawk that make it series notable. But I think I’ll be exchanging these for the Jesse Stones for the dad.

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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