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Early Autumn by Robert B. Parker
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Early Autumn (1981)

by Robert B. Parker

Series: Spenser (7)

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I think I liked this one the best so far.

Updated review - this paragraph added in January 2016. I recently re-watched a movie - part of the setting was a gym with boxing ring. And I had a whole new appreciation for the scene - the heavy bag, the speed bag. I fondly remembered this novel, where I learned something I didn't even know I would care about later. Original review continues in the next paragraph.

Spenser is hired to retrieve a 15 year old boy from his father, and return him to his mother who has custody. The poor kid is the rope in a tug of war between his parents. Neither one of them is any good for him.

When he gets a chance to spend time with the boy, Spenser teaches him what Spenser knows - weight lifting, running, punching a bag. Does his best to teach the boy to be autonomous.

When mom decides to change the game and make the boy a ping pong ball in the ongoing battle, Spenser does the other stuff he does - digs up dirt to blackmail both parents into leaving the boy alone and providing an opportunity for him to attend school and to choose what sort of life he will live when he grows up.

It is interesting how even having a temporary relationship with the kid affects his relationship with Susan.

But, as always, it ends on a feel-good note.

Oh yeah - this book goes back to the public library. These stories are not for rereading.

Revised April 2016 - I bought a copy of this book, because, on second thought, it's worth 5 stars and I plan to reread it someday. ( )
  CarolJMO | Dec 12, 2016 |



# 2013 - 90#

Funny how men dote on these Perfect Men that shoot well, cook well, have the perfect thing to say at every moment, and charm the ladies. What makes a man a Man? Is it the span of his chest, the stomach-muscles-that-are-very-well-developed framework, his towering height, bold face, calm countenance, full beard, mustache, or deep croaky voice? Spenser epitomizes all these traits...

Is this a coming-of-age story or pulp noir fiction? If genre is a type of cultural ritual, what does the combination of genres imply? Does it imply that genres in their traditional form no longer fulfill the needs of the noir fiction culture? The best examples of Noir Fiction are the ones that are able to merge several types of fiction modes, like this book here. Genre works best by using a set of literary codes that are recognized and understood by the reader and the author via shared literary devices as the faux-plot, which is clearly on display here. The classical faux-plot depicted here is the damsel in distress, who wants to protect her son from the father (with ties to the bas-fond). This is a simple way for the damsel's son and Spenser to be introduced. This device allows Parker to introduce a bit of standard private detective lore and a mini-mystery for Spenser and Paul, the son, to pursue. The mini-mystery provides more than one benefit to the young man struggling to find an adult identity.

It's not so much a detective novel as a story about a teenager's path to adulthood that utilizes pulp fiction devices (eg,faux-plot) for story progression. In that regard it works wonderfully.

NB: My last book of 2013... For 2014 I want to wish to myself that I won't care about weight gain, or be depressed about it. I also want to grow taller, but due to the fact that height-wise my genes tend to the short side, maybe that won't happen. And even if I grow bigger horizontally and vertically, I think it's just a matter of personal perspective to accept myself or not...Enough said (smile)!" ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
The very first Spenser I read, my favorite, and I think his best. It goes off in such an unexpected and personal direction that has nothing to do with detective fiction and everything to do with love and caring. Shortly after reading it I began the delightful business of collecting all his other Spenser books. This copy was inscribed, apparently around the time of publication. ( )
  unclebob53703 | Feb 29, 2016 |
My first Spencer book. I liked it. Was light on the detective story but I liked it nonetheless. Seemed very human to me. Will definitely read more. ( )
  Charlie-Ravioli | Jan 18, 2016 |
Among Parker's "Spenser" novels, Early Autumn is an unexpected treat. This is not a book about crime detection, but rather Spenser’s rescue of a boy who is ill- treated by his wealthy parents. Socialite Patty Giacomin hires Spenser to protect her son Paul from being kidnapped by her estranged husband. Paul not only is unwanted by both parents (who are using him as a pawn in their quarrel), but is entirely lacking on social skills, ambition, and interests. Spenser takes him in, teaches him to exercise, to lift weights, and how to box, and ultimately, works with him to build a house. Spenser is tough but treats him with respect and dignity. Paul gains confidence and self-respect and is ready to live on his own by the book’s end.

I found the story touching, with real sensitivity. It showed a side of Spenser we didn’t know existed. Spenser’s lady friend Susan Silverman also shows a new side, though not a pleasant one – she turns out to be selfish and lacking in understanding. While this is an unusual sort of Spenser novel, I liked it and can see why many Amazon readers rate it very highly. ( )
2 vote danielx | Mar 20, 2015 |
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For David Parker and Daniel Parker, with the respect and admiration of their father, who grew up with them.
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The urban renewers had struck again.
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 "When all your options are lousy," I said, "you try to choose the least lousy." [p. 28]
"... Too much positive is either scared or stupid or both. Reality is uncertain. Lot of people need certainty. ... They spend their lives trying to be what they're supposed to be and being scared they aren't. Quiet desperation." [pp. 139-140]
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440122147, Mass Market Paperback)

A bitter divorce is only the beginning. First the father hires thugs to kidnap his son. Then the mother hires Spenser to get the boy back. But as soon as Spenser senses the lay of the land, he decides to do some kidnapping of his own.

With a contract out on his life, he heads for the Maine woods, determined to give a puny 15 year old a crash course in survival and to beat his dangerous opponents at their own brutal game.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:05 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A bitter divorce is only the beginning. First the father hires thugs to kidnap his son. Then the mother hires Spenser to get the boy back.

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