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Hundred-Dollar Baby
Robert B. Parker
A Spenser mystery
Berkley 2007
291 pages paperback

Hundred-Dollar Baby is going to be a Spenser mystery used books stores have dozens of copies of in the next few months. I’d suggest recycling but Robert B. Parker’s already done that here. Berkley has a limited time money back guarantee on this title but it costs more to return the book than what you get back for it. Hmmm.

Reading a Spenser mystery by Robert B. Parker used to be like an old shoe. Okay, an old gum shoe. It was comfortable, a bit worn, took you to the usual places, and got you back home. No surprises. With Hundred-dollar Baby, the latest (2007) Spenser mystery novel, the series shows it needs to be re-souled. Granted, you do not read Robert B. Parker for the thrill or the detective work more than you read it because the book is entertaining, and not particularly demanding but this Spenser mystery is just a waste of time.

Hundred-Dollar Baby brings back the April Kyle character from Ceremony and Taming A Sea Horse. This time around April is a Madam operating a high-class joint in Boston. When someone tries to roust her, she calls Spenser for help. This is yet another pro-bono case for the Boston detective. Spenser calls Hawk and when things get a little heavy they call in some reinforcement. Of course, Spenser discusses the case with Susan Silverman between bouts of amorous declarations and so on. Oh, yeah, he confronts the baddies with a few smart aleck remarks.

Robert B. Parker and Spenser spend a good deal of time spinning their wheels in this story and go nowhere pretty slowly.

Aside from people who just enjoy the Spenser series and have come to accept its very formulaic and bland approach, I fail to see who else will enjoy Hundred-Dollar Baby. If it wasn’t for the fact Spenser is in it there would be little interest in the story and by now Spenser and Hawk are pretty much cardboard cutout characters in a¬†crayon by numbers mystery novel.