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Mortal Stakes by Robert B. Parker

Mortal Stakes (original 1975; edition 1987)

by Robert B. Parker

Series: Spenser (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9011115,207 (3.6)29
Everybody loves a winner, and the Rabbs are major league. Marty is the Red Sox star pitcher, Linda the loving wife. She loves everyone except the blackmailer out to wreck her life. Is Marty throwing fast balls or throwing games? It doesn't take long for Spenser to link Marty's performance with Linda's past...or to find himself trapped between a crazed racketeer and an enforcer toting an M-16. America's favorite pastime has suddenly become a very dangerous sport, and one wrong move means strike three, with Spenser out for good!… (more)
Title:Mortal Stakes
Authors:Robert B. Parker
Info:Dell (1987), Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction, Favorites, Mass-market paperback
Tags:mystery, Spenser, favorite author, DDC800 Literature, DDC813 Literature-American Literature-American Fiction, second reading, 2005, 2011

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Mortal Stakes by Robert B. Parker (1975)



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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
This title was in a tray of books a friend gave me. I've not read the first two Spenser novels. At first I liked the style, but after a while it wore on me. Spenser constantly trying to be witty (and rarely succeeding for me) got old.

I think that there were two characters named Marty in this book, which got a bit confusing. Marty Rabb (the Red Sox Pitcher) and Marty Quirk (with the police). Most of the time, Marty referred to Rabb, but a few times police came up to Spenser and said "Marty" wanted to see him--and I'm wondering how the police know the Red Sox pitcher--it took me two times to figure out there were two characters with the same first name. (Three if you count the son but since he's only a minor character he didn't end up confusing me.) Honestly, with all the names out there, pick one that's different from one of your main supporting characters.


I'm not that familiar with Boston. I do know of the Red Sox and that they play (or played) at Fenway Park which is (was) an iconic baseball park. So the many roads and restaurants and bars that the author puts in mean little to me.

A Red Sox big wig is referred to Spenser because he thinks his star pitcher (Rabb) may be either gambling or throwing games. To his credit, he wants hard proof before he takes it up the ladder and potentially ruins a career (Remember, this is set around the time of Pete Rose--and I think he's still banned from the Hall of Fame--sadly while people who have done worse things are eligible--but I digress).

Spenser's radar is piqued by Rabb's wife, whose story doesn't quite ring true. Some checking by Spenser reveals her real name and her former profession. There's embarrassing proof of that profession that's been obtained by someone who is threatening to go public with it if Rabb doesn't fix some games. Behind that, the blackmailer owes money to the bookies.

What I liked (that I haven't already mentioned):

Marty Rabb loves his wife even though he knew of her past. He tried to protect her.

What I didn't like (that I haven't already mentioned):

Spenser has two women he's seeing though neither is a serious relationship from what I read in this book. (I wasn't able to tell if the two women knew that he saw the other one.)

Spenser is apparently sleeping with at least one of these two women, despite the relationship not being what I would consider serious.

Spenser kills two people and almost kills a third. ( )
  JenniferRobb | Aug 5, 2019 |
For my review please visit my blog: Martin's View: Mortal Stakes. ( )
  Martin_Maenza | Apr 14, 2017 |
I got this one at the public library. I'm not doing them in order, although this one is from the early days.
Much better story than the last one I read. Hard decisions for good people, including our hero who did what he had to and then felt guilty. I could relate to that.

His relationship with Susan is making me uncomfortable, and I mostly try not to think about it. They are good for each other, that is clear, but they are not examples that fit my moral code. ( )
  CarolJMO | Dec 12, 2016 |
Not vintage Parker. He was still trying to find his Spenser voice... Things get better in later volumes, specially in terms of the dynamics between Spenser and Susan , which here are only in an embryonic state.
( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
another early Spenser novel (book3), with Susan Silverman, and Brenda Loring ? ( )
  jwals | Jan 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.

Robert Frost
This, too, is for Joan, David and Daniel
First words
It was summertime, and the living was easy for the Red Sox because Marty Rabb was throwing the ball past the New York Yankees in a style to which he'd become accustomed.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Average: (3.6)
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