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Cold Service by Robert B. Parker
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Cold Service (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Robert B. Parker (Author)

Series: Spenser (32)

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1,3702213,598 (3.51)19
Fiction. Suspense. Thriller. HTML:When Spenser's closet ally, Hawk, is brutally injured and left for dead while protecting booking Luther Gillespie, Spenser embarks on an epic journey to rehabilitate his friend in body and soul. Hawk, always proud, has never been dependent on anyone. Now he is forced to make connections: to the medical technology that will ensure his physical recovery, and to reinforce the tenuous emotional ties he has to those around him.
Spenser quickly learns that the Ukrainian mob is responsible for the hit, but finding a way into their tightly knit circle is not nearly so simple. Their total control of the town of Marshport, from the bodegas to the police force to the mayor's office, isn't just a sign of rampant corruption??it's a form of arrogance that only serves to ignite Hawk's desire to get even. As the body count rises, Spenser is forced to employ some questionable techniques and even more questionable hired guns while redefining his friendship with Hawk in the name of vengean
… (more)
Member:JayJBear
Title:Cold Service
Authors:Robert B. Parker (Author)
Info:Random House Audio (2005)
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Cold Service by Robert B. Parker (2005)

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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Mystery
  BooksInMirror | Feb 19, 2024 |
“So if Tony buys it, all we got to do is go up to Marshport and take over the city.” — Spenser

“That be the plan.” — Hawk

“Any operational details? Like how?” — Spenser

“I already give the you the big picture. You supposed to contribute something.” — Hawk

“How about I learn to say ‘don’t shoot’ in Ukranian?” — Spenser



Even as the sun began to set on Spenser, there were a few good reads left in the series. Cold Service, despite some caveats, is one of them. Two books before Parker’s best in a very long while, Hundred-Dollar Baby, and three before the awful Now and Then, Parker returned to the plot of Small Vices. In that entry, Spenser was shot and nearly killed. He had to rehabilitate with help from Hawk, and of course, Susan. But more importantly he had to set things right once he was back in shape, and find redemption. In Cold Service we have that coin flipped, and it is Hawk in that same situation. The similarities in plot end there, though the Gray Man plays an integral part in this one as well.

Though the Susan factor had altered the direction of the series from Valediction onward, and hindered the literary heights Parker’s work had aspired to early on, it was still occasionally great entertainment. This one’s a quick read with a ton of interaction between Spenser and Hawk, who takes the lead in this one because of the story-line. A lot of characters in the Spenser world pass this way in this entry, including Vinnie, the Gray Man, Tony Marcus, Ives, Epstein, and the sexy Rita Fiore. It keeps moving swiftly, and there’s a plot that eventually encompasses the revenge and redemption story. That being said, there are a few strange things about this one, and a wistful caveat.

First, the strange stuff. Some of the dialog Parker gives Vinnie is very odd. It doesn’t sound at all like Vinnie, and is untrue to the character as he'd been portrayed in all the previous entries. A scene near the end when Vinnie comes to tell Hawk and Spenser that Boots is looking to ace Hawk, is glaringly awkward, and doesn’t feel right at all. Another strange thing is Hawk and Spenser ask Susan to help them plan their next move — more than once. And she does help them.

I’m not sure what was going on in these particular scenes, or what caused them to be written as they were, but they feel very un-Parker-like. I’ll leave it at that, and not speculate any further. Fortunately, all the interaction between Hawk and Spenser, and a solid story overcome those few moments of weirdness.

For anyone unfamiliar with the series, the aforementioned won’t be as glaring as it was to me, and the same might be said of my caveat. For those who’ve enjoyed this entire series over the years, however, one can’t read Cold Service and not lament the missed opportunity in Double Deuce that I talked about in my review of that book. Though that book was all about Hawk, Parker had already shifted the focus of the series — nearly completely — to the vain and pretentious Susan Silverman, making it about her and Spenser, ad nauseam. Because of that, Hawk’s younger years weren’t given their due in flashbacks that Double Deuce almost begged for, nor were poignant details of Hawk's past revealed in conversations. And it takes away from this entry.

Because Hawk’s struggles to get out of the ghetto were only alluded to in Double Deuce, and never expounded on, the resonance we might have felt in Cold Service when Hawk is temporarily stripped of that persona which he’d created in order to make it out, is muted. It’s a good story, and still entertaining, but the depth a great writer like Parker could have given this book had he not let the Susan Silverman character smother narratives, and mitigate the need for actual plotting and detecting, makes this effort more surface than substance.

Hawk gets back-shot and is in the hospital recovering. The bookie he was supposed to protect got dusted, as did the man’s wife and family. Only a very young boy survived, and Hawk knows he must do something about that once he is back to being Hawk. As in Small Vices, there is much talk about what the experience has done to Hawk — but not from Hawk himself. His current lover, Cecile, of course doesn’t understand why he doesn’t want her to see him until he’s back to being Hawk. Then she doesn’t understand why he has to keep a part of himself beyond her reach. The reader knows, of course, but the reader would feel it on another level had Parker not blown the opportunity he had in Double Deuce to make Hawk more than just Spenser’s cool and dangerous sidekick. There are flashes of what might have been, and Hawk is a great character, but once this series got back on the rails after jumping the track completely in Catskill Eagle, that kind of resonance was abandoned. It then became enjoyable entertainment, with only brief moments of what it had once been in the beginning.

The ensuing narrative when Hawk is finally back to his old self involves Ukrainians running some Afghan heroin through Marshport, a town controlled by Boots. The reason Tony Marcus is letting it all slide has to do with a daughter neither Spenser or Hawk were aware of, and her choice in men. Spenser talks with the spook, Ives, and he gives him the Gray Man to translate. The Feds have an interest too, and after talking with Epstein, it’s obvious that everyone has their own agenda concerning Marshport, Boots, and the deadly Ukrainians from Odessa. Vinnie gets involved and finally Hawk comes up with a very tricky plan to play everyone, so that he can clean up Marshport, kill the Ukrainians who shot him, and set up a trust fund for the boy, who Hawk views as his responsibility now. Action is sporadic but it’s a swiftly-moving and engaging read on the level Parker kept the series at after Catskill Eagle.

There is some crisp and funny dialog between Hawk and Spenser in this one — only some of the Susan and Vinnie stuff feels off. The story is good, the narrative entertaining. The conclusion is solid as well. After Catskill Eagle, Spenser should never have been as reticent here about the violence, however. The fact that Parker had shifted the series so much toward Silverman is highlighted by his moralizing here. In Catskill he killed a pimp and many others in order to rescue the unfaithful Silverman from a bed she had made herself. Here, however, Spenser has difficulty doing likewise for Hawk, someone of far more substance.

We get some of Susan’s psychobabble in this one, of course, though it’s kept at a minimum. Though there’s never any question that Spenser will be right there at Hawk’s side, how far he’ll go is another matter. It doesn’t ring true, not post-Catskill Eagle, and is just one more odd element that is overcome by a good story, swiftly moving narrative, and excellent exchanges between Hawk and Spenser. Though flawed, a very enjoyable read for a later Spenser. ( )
  Matt_Ransom | Oct 6, 2023 |
First edition as new
  dgmathis | Mar 15, 2023 |
For my review please visit my blog: Martin's View: Cold Service. ( )
  Martin_Maenza | Apr 14, 2017 |
This is a different type of Spenser story, since he isn’t really the main focus of the story. Although told in his first person narration, he plays a secondary role to his sidekick, Hawk, who was shot down while providing bodyguard services to a bookie. Spenser nurses Hawk back to health and helps him out when he plots retribution on those who gunned him down. Their investigation leads to the city of Marshport, where a gang of Ukrainians led by their boss, Boots Podolak, control the city and are in involved in trafficking heroin with Afghans. They plan to pit a group of black gangsters against Podolak and the Ukrainians, while Hawk picks his spots to kill off the men responsible for nearly killing him.

There were some good twists and turns in the novel. I can’t say that all of what happened here was terribly realistic. There were some plot points that worked to further the story, but wouldn’t work in real life. I enjoyed the suspense and the tension. I also thought the conversational tone of the writing worked well. I didn’t find the ending entirely satisfying. The climactic moments of the story all occur off the page. I thought it would have added to the thrill of the novel if they occurred on the page. Nonetheless, this was a fun read that I would recommend.

Carl Alves – author of Conjesero ( )
  Carl_Alves | Sep 5, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert B. Parkerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mantegna, JoeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Revenge is a dish best served cold.
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For Joan, far together
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It started without me.
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Fiction. Suspense. Thriller. HTML:When Spenser's closet ally, Hawk, is brutally injured and left for dead while protecting booking Luther Gillespie, Spenser embarks on an epic journey to rehabilitate his friend in body and soul. Hawk, always proud, has never been dependent on anyone. Now he is forced to make connections: to the medical technology that will ensure his physical recovery, and to reinforce the tenuous emotional ties he has to those around him.
Spenser quickly learns that the Ukrainian mob is responsible for the hit, but finding a way into their tightly knit circle is not nearly so simple. Their total control of the town of Marshport, from the bodegas to the police force to the mayor's office, isn't just a sign of rampant corruption??it's a form of arrogance that only serves to ignite Hawk's desire to get even. As the body count rises, Spenser is forced to employ some questionable techniques and even more questionable hired guns while redefining his friendship with Hawk in the name of vengean

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