Ace Atkins has hit the nail squarely on the head with his book “Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby: A Spenser Novel.”
Atkins captures Spenser and the supporting characters perfectly. This time around, Spenser is hired by a 14-year-old girl, Mattie Sullivan, who believes the wrong man was sent to prison for the murder of her mother four years previously.
On the night Mattie’s mom was killed, she saw two men (Red and Moody) shove her mom into a car and take off. Her mother was found stabbed and run over a few hours later. No one even talked to the two guys who had been with her mom. The police simply settled for the fall guy who was found washing blood off of his car the next day … a car that had been used by Red and Moody.
Because Mattie is struggling to help her grandmother raise her two youngest siblings, Spenser agrees to take the case for a box of sugar-coated doughnuts. As Spenser investigates the 4-year-old case, he starts sensing that Mattie may be telling the truth. People attempt to warn Spenser off, but that just makes him more determined to solve the case.
Spenser soon finds out that the feds have a stake in this, too. They don’t appreciate Spenser screwing everything up and try to set Spenser up for a crime he didn’t do. What the feds end up doing is letting Spenser know he’s onto something. Before long, however, Spenser learns that the real boss behind the boss may be the most dangerous man he has ever encountered. He’s a person so mean and deadly that Spenser might not be able to take him down.
Atkins perfectly incorporates witty sarcasm, gourmet cooking, different types of beer, the Boston Red Sox and the bantering between characters. This novel was a sheer joy to read. I hope Robert B. Parker, wherever he is, is grinning with delight that his main creation will continue at the hands of a very talented writer.
Wayne C. Rogers is the author of the horror novellas “The Encounter” and “The Tunnels,” both of which can be purchased at Amazon’s Kindle Store for 99 cents each.