Book Review: Robert B. Parker’s Little White Lies by Ace Atkins

Robert B. Parker’s Little White Lies
A Spenser Novel #46
Ace Atkins
Putnam, May 2017
ISBN: 978-0-399-17700-2
Hardcover

For some reason I had not read this entry in the Spenser series created by Robert B. Parker, but have finally caught up to it, I’m delighted to say.

From the publisher:  Connie Kelly thought she’d found her perfect man on an online dating site.  He was silver-haired and handsome, with a mysterious background working for the CIA.  She fell so hard for M. Brooks Welles that she wrote him a check for almost three hundred thousand dollars, hoping for a big return on her investment.  But within weeks, both Wells and her money are gone.  Her therapist, Dr. Susan Silverman, hands her Spenser’s card.  A self-proclaimed military hotshot, Welles had been a frequent guest on national news shows, speaking with authority about politics and world events.  But when he disappears, he leaves not only a jilted lover but a growing list of angry investors, duped cops, and a team of paramilitary contractors looking for revenge.  Enter Spenser, who quickly discovers that everything about Welles is phony.  His name, his resume, and his roster of associates are nothing but an elaborate fraud.  But uncovering the truth won’t be easy, as he’ll have to keep his client from falling back into the mystery man’s tangled web, all while staying a step ahead of trained killers.  As the trail winds from Boston to the back roads of Georgia, Spenser will need help from trusted allies Hawk and Teddy Sapp to make sure Welles’s next con is his last.

 

The author has captured many of the expected patterns of Robert B. Parker’s writing. (Mr. Parker died in January 2010.)  But Mr. Atkins, besides giving us a very absorbing tale, has retained some of the most typical Parker patterns, e.g., nearly every character’s choice of clothing and headgear is noted, particularly caps declaring the owner’s love for a particular local sports team, whether Braves or Red Sox.  Connie Kelly’s early appearance notes that she “was dressed in a white sleeveless silk top with a black pencil skirt adorned with chrysanthemums and a pair of black open-toe heels that highlighted her shapely calves. Her toes had been painted a festive red.”  In her next appearance “she wore a very short red floral dress and black tights with black suede booties,” with a purple cardigan.  She explains what attracted her to Mr. Welles thusly:  “I wanted a tall, successful, and interesting man.  Someone who liked to travel and took time to enjoy sunsets.”  Well, she got all of that and a lot more that she could have done without.  Spenser is now living in the area of the Charlestown Navy Yard, where Pearl the Wonder Dog keeps him delightful company.

This is another exciting entry in the series, thoroughly entertaining, and highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, May 2018.

Next up for this reviewer is the next in the series by Mr. Atkins, another Spenser novel, Old Black Magic.

Book Reviews: Cold Coast by Jenifer LeClair, Bottom Line by Marc Davis, and Nemesis by Bill Pronzini

Cold CoastCold Coast
A Brie Beaumont Mystery Thriller
The Windjammer Mystery Series, Book Three
Jenifer LeClair
Conquill Press, July 2013
ISBN 978-0-9800017-6-1
Trade Paperback
*****

Brie Beaumont is a homicide detective on leave from the Minneapolis Police Department and decided to take a cruise aboard The Maine Wind, an old-fashioned sailing ship. The ship is owned by Captain John deLuc. When an incident left Captain deLuc’s crew short one person he asked Brie to be second mate and she accepted. Brie and John have become close during their time together on the ship and it is now nearing the time for Brie to decide if she is going to return to Minneapolis and her duties as a detective.

The Maine Wind docks at Tucker Harbor, Maine after a storm. Tucker Harbor is a small lobster fishing village. Brie and another crew member decided to take the longboat ashore and several passengers expressed interest in going ashore and hiking along a trail that led to the village. The group set out on the trail but suddenly Brie heard a terrified cry from Hurley, one of the ship’s passengers, that was followed by one from another passenger. The group had come across a body on the trail. It turned out that the body was that of Jake Maloney, one of the residents of Tucker Harbor. The police were summoned and Dent Fenton of the Maine State Police started the investigation. When he realized Brie was an experienced detective he asked that she assist him in the investigation. Brie agreed to help and soon found that another murder had occurred earlier in the village.

This is the third Windjammer book with Brie Beaumont. It seems wherever The Maine Wind takes her Brie winds up in the midst of a mystery. Previous books are Danger Sector and Rigged for Murder. It is not necessary to read the books in order but they are all full of wonderful descriptions of life on a sailing vessel and the mysteries are tense and keep the reader guessing until the final outcome.

 
Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, February 2014.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Bottom LineBottom Line
Marc Davis
The Permanent Press, June 2013
ISBN: 978-1-57962-316-6
Hardcover
*****

In wake of the Bernie Madoff massive fraud upon the world, a novel (or novels) on questionable business practices could be expected. Bottom Line tells a slightly different story of a similar large-scale fraud on a different level: Fraudulent accounting, a violation of securities laws. It is the story of Martell & Co., a top consulting/auditing firm based in Chicago with some of the country’s top companies as clients. With the downturn in the economy, with lower earnings in prospect, the numbers are “massaged” so the stocks of the public companies wouldn’t suffer.

The plot involves the study of the principal behind the firm, Adrian Martell, and his son, who perpetrate the shenanigans, and Nick Blake, the number two behind them, who plays a vital role in uncovering the scheme. It is an interesting idea, and, for the most part, well executed, except for some minor points about which the author or editor should have known better. Several times, SEC forms are misnamed (K-8 instead of 8K, or K-10 for 10K), and a statement that corporate information would not be released for several months, despite the legal requirement for immediate disclosure of significant news, raising the question as to how expert the author is on the subject. All in all, it is an interesting and fairly good read, despite these misgivings.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2013.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nemesis 2Nemesis
A Nameless Detective Novel
Bill Pronzini
Forge/Tom Doherty Books, July 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2566-2
Hardcover
*****

Nemesis, the newest in the Nameless Detective series, in which this is number 38, is told from three points of view: that of each of the three private detectives who work together out of their office in the South Park area of San Francisco, Jake Runyon, Tamara Corbin, and the “nameless detective” of the title of this series, in which this is number 38. (He is not “nameless” to his colleagues, btw; to them he is “Bill.”) Their newest client hires them to find out who is trying to blackmail them, the case goes to Jake. (Bill, an ex-cop now 60 years old, is working minimum hours, still trying to help his wife heal after she was held prisoner by a psychotic before being rescued, and Tamara mans the office, aided by a couple of part-time detectives.)

The woman, voluptuous Verity Daniels, who lives in a sumptuous high-rise just off the Embarcadero, turns out to be much more, and much less, than she at first appears. The investigation takes Jake across a wide swath of San Francisco, checking out the family of a man to whom Verity was engaged but who drowned just before he ostensibly was going to break off the engagement; a married ex-employer with whom she appears to have been having an affair; and a former husband. Jake’s instincts, after 14 years with the Seattle police and nearly 8 as a p.i., tell him he should drop the case. When her truthfulness becomes a serious issue and he tries to do just that, the result is not a pretty one. And the volatile Verity soon after charges him with rape. Things get rapidly worse, soon the detective agency is itself sued for serious money, and Jake is thrown in jail. The next portion of the book belongs to Tamara and her end of the investigation, and the final section is Bill’s as he picks up the case.

As with all of this author’s books, the latest Nameless Detective novel is a very well-plotted tale with the author’s trademark wonderfully drawn characters. Each section goes into the lives of each of the three detectives, their own past life-threatening episodes, and the ongoing investigation. There are several twists and turns, and at the end a prologue tying up all loose ends in the three detectives’ current lives. All terrifically well done, and the book is highly recommended. Besides, how could one not love a guy called “Nameless” who owns a cat called “Shameless?!”

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, January 2014.