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Cold Service by Robert B. Parker

Cold Service (2005)

by Robert B. Parker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Spenser (32)

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984188,727 (3.49)17



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Robert B. Parker wrote 40 novels featuring the Boston- based one-named private detective, Spenser (with an “s”, like the English poet). Cold Service is the 32nd of the series. Several of the characters in these novels appear in many of the others. Perhaps none of his characters is more riveting than Hawk, a large, somewhat enigmatic, preternaturally tough, sexually irresistible, black man who occasionally is found on the wrong side of the law, but who serves as Spenser’s companion, occasional body guard, and foil for witty repartee.

Hawk is nearly indestructible in all the other novels in which he appears, but this one begins with Hawk in the hospital recovering from three gunshot wounds he received while serving as a body guard for a bookie, Luther Gillespie. Not only was Hawk grievously injured and left for dead, but Gillespie, his wife, and three of his four children were murdered by the same assailants.
Needless to say, Hawk is not amused by these developments, and he vows to wreak vengeance on the Ukrainian mobsters who perpetrated the crime. Hawk enlists the aid of his very tough associate, Spenser, and our two vigilante heroes embark on a scheme that involves temporary alliances with the F.B.I., a black vice gang, the Boston Italian mafia, and a multilingual hit man who nearly killed Spenser in an earlier novel. In addition, there is a great deal of soul searching analysis, the destruction of a crime syndicate, and a lot of shooting.

The real charm in this, as in all of Parker’s oeuvre, is the snappy, terse dialog. When Spenser meets F.B.I. agent Epstein for lunch, the verbal exchange goes as follows:

Epstein drank the last of his coffee, looked sadly at the empty pudding dish, and pushed his chair back.
“Thanks for lunch,” he said.
“I gather I paying?’
“How nice of you to offer,” he said.
“I’m very patriotic,” I said."

The novel is more than a tale of vengeance. It is a study in Hawk’s motivation. It shows how a man of his stature in the tough guy universe simply cannot ignore an insult of this magnitude. Before the final action scenes, Hawk has lunch with Rita Fiore, a well-know Boston defense attorney:

“Hell, Hawk,” Rita said. She leaned forward slightly, as if, for the moment, she seemed to have forgotten her libido. “They shot you in the back; how can it be your fault?”
“I ain’t supposed to get shot in the back.”
“For crissake,” Rita said. “You’re a man, like other men. You can be hurt. You can be killed.”
“Ain’t supposed to be like other men,” Hawk said.
Rita looked at him for a moment.
“Jesus,” she said. “It must be hard being you.”
Hawk was quiet for a time, then he smiled at her, which was nearly always a startling sight.
“Worth it, though,” he said."

This book, like the other 15 or so Parker novels I have read, moves quickly. I have never taken more than 2 days to finish one. I don’t read them in order but it doesn’t matter. What is important, however, is that one not take seriously or find offensive the somewhat dated variety of what one might call: hipster, I’m white, you’re black, isn't that cool, interaction.

(JAB) ( )
  nbmars | Jul 26, 2014 |
Darker than the usual Spenser, with more bodies and a bigger role for Hawk and his murky world, but superb. The intricacies of the gang war plot got me confused for a while but the real story is the relationship bewteen Spenser and Hawk. I'm afraid Susan rather functioned as the person that the slang conversations got explained to in everyday language for the reader but there were a few good moments for her, including the two days to bake a pumpkin pie. It was also the end of the relationship bewteen Cecile and Hawk but, as I don't read all the books in oder and didn't know her, it didn't seem quite as tragic as it could be. Overall, I was bothered by all the killing but made my way through it for everything else that was so good. I also pondered what the city of Marshport was (unless it is a real one...) and decieded it was perhaps Everett or Malden. Or maybe there is a Marshport.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
Cold Service revolves around Spenser helping Hawk instead of vice versa, which is usually the case. Written in the swift take no nonsense Parker style, Cold Case is another great read for Parker or detective fiction fans. ( )
  bjkelley | Sep 14, 2012 |
It's deja vu all over again! In (Small Vices) (Spenser novel #24), private detective Spenser is shot and is nursed back to health by Hawk, at which point the two seek revenge. In Cold Service (Spenser novel #32), the roles are reversed: Hawk is shot, Spenser nurses him back to health, at which point the two seek revenge. And the mysterious Gray Man appears in both novels.

Nonetheless, I rather enjoyed this novel as a bit of escapism, and seem to have ranked it higher than most of the (embarassingly large) number of his books that I've read. The plot has its convolutions, and the actions scenes are captivating, enough so to make up for the amateur psychologizing by Spenser's ladylove, Susan. So what if their revenge involves murder of perpetrators (the vicious Ukranian mob); this is morality at its most primitive. Parker fans will most likely enjoy this work, and it's a good introduction for newcomers to his ouevre. ( )
2 vote danielx | Aug 27, 2012 |
They shot Hawk?!? Now Spenser helps Hawk come back to form and the two set out to take down a crooked town. Even the Grey Man returns. My second-favorite Spenser book. ( )
  losttexan | Jul 30, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert B. Parkerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mantegna, JoeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Revenge is a dish best served cold.
For Joan, far together
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It started without me.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425204286, Mass Market Paperback)

When his closest ally, Hawk, is beaten and left for dead while protecting a bookie, Spenser embarks on an epic journey to rehabilitate his best pal, body and soul. But that means infiltrating a ruthless mob—and redefining his friendship with Hawk in the name of vengeance...

“Cold Service moves with the speed of light.”—Orlando Sentinel

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:33 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"When his closest ally, Hawk, is brutally injured and left for dead while protecting bookie Luther Gillespie, Spenser embarks on an epic journey to rehabilitate his friend in body and soul"

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