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Small Vices by Robert B. Parker

Small Vices (1997)

by Robert B. Parker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Spenser novels (24)

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767None12,054 (3.79)15



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Showing 5 of 5
Possibly the best book in the Spenser series. A hired gun almost kills Spenser. BIG mistake. The cops and crooks unite on this one. Lookout, Grey Man. Fun to reread this and "Cold Service" back to back. ( )
  losttexan | Jul 30, 2012 |
I'm a huge fan of the dry wit and repartee so I enjoyed this as much as the others. ( )
  shelleyraec | May 9, 2011 |
Relatively straight-forward story with a lot of familiar characters making guest appearances. The most interesting thing about it is the question at the end. Kinda like is it better to catch soulless vampires or people who do bad things but still have a soul? ( )
  raizel | Apr 28, 2011 |
Parker fans will like this contribution, as long as they don't think very much about the ending. Our protagonist Spenser takes on one of his most difficult (and least satisfying) cases to date, and after an attempted assassination, takes a full year to recover. We see Spenser as mortal, although still too "tough" to show any vulnerability. In fact, he remains the dispassionate unemotional professional when it comes to facing the assassin who tried to kill him towards the end of the book. The book has moments both exciting and sad, and I did enjoy reading it; in fact, I found it hard to put it down at one point. Of course we have to suspend disbelief in supposing that buxom "college girls" are sexually interested in this big middle- aged guy with a scarred face and an oft- broken nose. That's standard for the genre, even if Spenser does remain faithful to his lady love.

Despite the engaging plot, Small Vices falters at the end, making for a conclusion that is not coherent or at all believable. Those who haven't read the book can skip to the final paragraph of this review, since this one contains a SPOILER. As readers will know: (a) both the father and the son (the Stapletons) have officially confessed (one to murder, the other to conspiracy), with attorneys and a police stenographer present; and (b) they each have been found guilty in a court of law. Yet at the end of story we're told that (c) both are appealing their convictions. From this we apparently are to infer that (d) they pleaded innocent to the crimes to which they had officially confessed (on what possible grounds? we're not told.) We are expected to believe that (e) as a witness to the murder conspiracy charge, the character Rugar has been held in prison without charge for however long it took for the cases to be taken to trial (years?); and (f) that in that time, no one [the police, the defense attorneys] tried to figure out his identity, despite the obvious fact that he was an assassin for hire. Further, we're told (g) that Rugar's testimony will be unnecessary in any future trial due to the above confessions (then why has he been held in prison all this time?). What's more, (h) we are expected to admire Spenser because he thought it more important for Stapleton senior be convicted for conspiracy than to see Rugar convicted for an actual murder (a policeman) or for attempted murder (against Spenser himself). And finally, (i) we are to overlook the fact that Spenser has ensured that as a professional assassin, Rugar is now free to commit more such murders for hire. So much for Spenser's supposedly admirable ethics.

Parker seems not to have known how to end his book, and counted on his readers not to notice that the parts simply don't hang together. Sorry, but as fiction writing goes, this is lazy and sloppy. Most of the above could have been avoided if the author simply had the Stapletons plead guilty to the crimes they confessed to. But then Spenser would not have had a reason to let Rugar off the hook, and Parker couldn't have resurrected him in future novels. What this book needed was a good editor, or a writer with some of the self- discipline of its main character.

Oh well, I enjoyed the book for what it is... something light and unchallenging to read just before sleep. As to what the title or cover is all about, I have no idea. As things stand, I've already given more thought to the book than it probably warrants. ( )
3 vote danielx | Feb 16, 2011 |
What can you say a Spenser story... ( )
  Dakoty | Mar 22, 2009 |
Showing 5 of 5
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert B. Parkerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reynolds, BurtNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Through tattered clothes small vices do appear;
Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
Arm it in rags, a pygmy's straw does pierce it.
---King Lear
For Joan: You may have been a headache, but you've never been a bore.
First words
The last time I saw Rita Fiore she'd been an assistant DA with red hair, first-rate hips, and more attitude than an armadillo.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0425162486, Mass Market Paperback)

While the rest of us grow older, Spenser seems suspended in perpetual early middle age. Oh, he talks about getting older, but his body is still firm, his muscles toned, and his reflexes are still hair-trigger fine. Even so, it is Spenser's body that betrays him when he is almost killed by an assassin's bullet two-thirds of the way through Robert B. Parker's latest Spenser adventure, Small Vices. Hired to discover the truth behind a doubtful murder conviction, Spenser soon runs afoul of "the Gray Man," who eventually shoots and partially paralyzes him. Spenser, his stalwart girlfriend Susan, and his almost mythical friend Hawk then hole up in Santa Barbara until the detective can get back on his feet again.

There's never any doubt that Spenser will get back on his feet, or that he will eventually track down the man who shot him and solve the mystery that started the whole ball rolling in the first place. What makes the Spenser mysteries interesting is Spenser himself, the thinking person's private eye, a man of honor and of conscience who understands that every action has consequences.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:15 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The bad kid from the 'hood has a long, long record, but did he really murder the white coed from ritzy Pemberton College? His former lawyers believe that he was framed, and they hire Spenser and Hawk to uncover the truth. Plumbing the depths of the seamy side of life, they encounter a no man's land of twisted cops and spoiled rich kids with peculiar private proclivities. When a master assassin's bullet takes Spenser down, he survives the attack but remains dead to the world, plotting to pay back his shooter while recovering his strength in secret. From the back streets of Boston to Manhattan's most elegant thoroughfares, Small vices delivers both galvanizing action, suspense and a complex meditation on morality and mortality in the blend that legions of Spenser fans recognize and appreciate.… (more)

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Average: (3.79)
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