In recent days I've read the two most recent novels by Robert B. Parker, SCHOOL DAYS (featuring Spenser) and SEA CHANGE (featuring Jesse Stone). I've read Parker for all these years and continue to read him for very specific reasons: the books are short, they read fast, and the dialogue is usually pretty good. Also, I continue to find his lead characters interesting (with the exception of Sunny Randell; I don't read that series anymore). I expect the plots to be thin and some of the other characters to be annoying.
SCHOOL DAYS and SEA CHANGE are pretty much par for the course for Parker. There are some minor variations. Spenser is pretty much on his own except for Pearl the dog in SCHOOL DAYS. Hawk is mentioned but never appears; Susan is gone for most of the book but still manages to maintain a presence because Spenser spends so much time pining away for her. I'd take Rita Fiore over Susan in a second, but that's just me. Anyway, it's sort of refreshing to see Spenser operate without his usual sidekicks. SEA CHANGE is rather preachy and moralistic, even for Parker, and I didn't like it as well as the other Jesse Stone books. But it's still certainly readable and I'm sure I'll pick up the next one in the series when it comes out.
So if you like Parker's work, these books are fine. You'll read them, enjoy them, and probably forget all about them in a week's time. But if you haven't read Parker before, don't start with either of these. Go back and read him from the first.
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