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A hurricane hinders a kidnapping and Spenser goes on a search for the man responsible¡ª the infamous Gray Man, who has both helped and hunted Spenser in the past.
Heidi Bradshaw is wealthy, beautiful, and well connected ¡ªand she needs Spenser¡¯s help. In a most unlikely request, Heidi, a notorious gold digger recently separated from her latest husband, recruits the Boston P.I. to accompany her to her private island, Tashtego. The reason? To attend her daughter¡¯s wedding as a sort of stand-in husband and protector. Spenser consents, but only after it is established that his beloved Susan Silverman will also be in attendance.
It should be a straightforward job for Spenser: show up for appearances, have some drinks, and spend some quality time with Susan. But when Spenser¡¯s old nemesis Rugar¡ªthe Gray Man¡ªarrives, Spenser realizes that something is amiss. A storm, a kidnapping, and murder tear apart what should be a joyous occasion, and Rugar is seemingly at the center of it all. The only thing is that the sloppy kidnapping is not Rugar¡¯s style¡ªas Spenser knows from past encounters. With six dead bodies and more questions than he can process, Spenser begins a search for answers¡ªand the Gray Man.
With its razor-sharp dialogue, crisply etched characters, and high-wire narrative tension, Rough Weather once again proves that ¡°Robert B. Parker is a force of nature¡± (The Boston Globe).
- Packs an explosive punch
For many, fall is the season of falling leaves, shorter days and cooler nights. But for mystery fans, fall is the time of year for a new Spenser novel from the dean of American crime fiction, Robert B. Parker. ROUGH WEATHER is the 36th book featuring Spenser, the wise-cracking Boston detective whose first name we still have never discovered. Not that it matters at this point.
ROUGH WEATHER will not disappoint. The series is as fresh and pertinent now as it was when Parker published the first Spenser novel, THE GODWOLF MANUSCRIPT, in 1973. Indeed, in recent years, the series has taken a darker, more noir-like turn while still giving readers everything they have come to love and expect from Spenser: his wit, his strength, his sense of justice.
Parker did not come to the mystery writing business the traditional way. The pulps were long gone by the time he arrived, and he was not a newspaperman. Instead, he got a PhD in literature from Boston University. His dissertation studied the private eyes of an earlier age created by pulp giants like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. These writers brought the private eye into 20th-century America. But Chandler's Philip Marlowe series consisted of just seven novels. Parker's Spenser series is now over five times longer than Chandler's. And in the process, Parker has taken the American private eye into the 21st century and created one of the greatest fictional characters in American literature.
The America of 2008 is far different from the America of 1973, but at the start of ROUGH WEATHER we find Spenser in his usual setting, staring out the window of his office at the young women walking by on Berkeley Street. And then the story kicks in. Parker writes:
"I was thinking about sex when there was a delicate knock on my door. Immediately after the knock, the door opened and a woman came in for whom I was in the perfect state of mind. She was a symphony of thick auburn hair, even features, wide mouth, big eyes, stunning figure, elegant clothes, expensive perfume, and what people who would talk that way would call breeding."
Chandler could not have written it better.
The mysterious woman, Heidi Bradshaw, hires Spenser to be her bodyguard at the wedding of her daughter, which will be held on a private island off the Massachusetts coast. The island has its own private security force, so it is not clear why she needs Spenser, except, she points out, "as a kind of balance to my insecurity." Spenser responds, "An insecurity guard."
Right from the start, the novel follows the noir credo that nothing is what it seems. And sure enough, a hurricane hits the island right as the wedding begins, which coincides as well with the arrival of a highly trained commando team that kills the groom and reverend at the altar and then kidnaps the bride. Spenser is in the first row with his longtime love, Dr. Susan Silverman. He manages to save Susan and kill one of the bad guys but not before the bride is whisked away as the storm lifts.
As if this was not bad enough, the lead kidnapper just happens to be the "Gray Man," the shadowy CIA-type operative who is the only one who ever came close to killing Spenser several years back. Why is he involved in a kidnapping? And the bride's father and stepfather have money, as does the groom, the heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. But after the bride is snatched, no ransom note appears. What kind of kidnapping is this?
Spenser is officially off the case, but that has never stopped him before --- and it does not stop him now. He has to get involved. His knight-errant code has been violated. Even though he does not know why he was hired by Heidi, six people were killed on his watch. Spenser simply says, "I wasn't very useful." He has to find the girl and solve the case.
But the presence of the Gray Man puts Spenser's life at risk. It is pretty much understood that the Gray Man is the only person alive who can kill Spenser (this is his third appearance in the series). The threat to Spenser brings in Hawk, his faithful thug sidekick. The banter between them is one of the great treats of this series.
"`And so you been doing what you do, which is poke around in the hornet's nest until you irritate a hornet,' Hawk said.
"`Not a bad technique,' Hawk said, `long as you got me to walk behind you.'"
Indeed, the Gray Man does try to kill Spenser and the bodies pile up. Meanwhile, the mother of the bride, Heidi, shows very little interest in the fate of her own daughter, and other players involved just wish Spenser would go away.
When the Spenser series started, Spenser was a veteran of the Korean War. There have been a lot of wars involving America since then. The series acknowledges that Spenser is aging but not that he and Hawk are men in their 70s beating up tough guys half their age. That is not the point. The series stays fresh with timely and timeless hard-boiled stories and brilliant writing.
People still kill for greed, sex and power --- the reasons they always did. And it is not just the Gray Man involved here, but a gray world where sometimes, maybe even most of the time, people die for nothing. But that does not mean Spenser is going to stop trying to find justice his own way.
ROUGH WEATHER packs an explosive punch. It is the perfect book for a lazy fall weekend. Parker is a great writer at the absolute top of his game. Reading his books is like being in the room watching Sinatra sing.
--- Reviewed by Tom Callahan...more info
- Clearly, it's a Parker
Simply put, this is Parker on top of his game. Excellent dialogue and scene. My only fault with the plot is early on, when the main character fails to warn EVERYONE that a killer is hanging around. Overlook that, and the story is excellent. You will start and finish the book in less than 48 hours....more info
- Rough Weather
I always liked Parker's books. I though the book was good.I enjoy Spenser.
V. Nathan...more info
- Another formerly great writer sells out
Since the release of _The Godwulf Manuscript_ back in 1973, I have been fond of RBP's work, but it was _Catskill Eagle_ that turned me into a real Spenser fan. I have read everything Parker has written and I'm sorry to say that _Rough Weather_ will probably be my last.
Ever since the introduction of the Sunny Randall (Spenser in drag)and Jesse Stone series, I've increasingly felt like I was getting less and less "bang" for my buck --- not to mention the fact that the word count kept decreasing as the type size increased. But I kept on shelling out the dough...which also kept increasing.
Beginning several Spenser novels ago, I noticed Parker was not only relying on the same old characters - recycling them over and over again and apparently having decided to abandon the concept of introducing anyone new - but was also "crossing over" more and more (Spenser hooking up with colleagues of Sunny Randall and/or Jesse Stone, and vice versa). He also began to increasingly recycle dialogue (how many times do Spenser and Susan -- and occassionally Hawk --- need to have the same old conversation --- always over a meal ---about "Spenser's code" and what makes him different from Hawk or the Grey Man?
But _Rough Weather_ was the proverbial straw. I would venture to guess that there is not one line of original dialogue in the entire book. If one were to take the time to check, I believe you would probably find that 90% of _Rough Weather_ has already been published in previous RBP novels. The plot is thin, predictable, and completely unoriginal (I had the entire thing figured out by Chapter 4); Parker seems to be testing the limits of just how many old characters he can squeeze into one novelette (those who don't actually make an appearance are at least mentioned once or twice); and the action (what little there is)is contrived and boring. Even Hawk, who can usually be counted on to save a chapter in distress, is reduced to a mere caricature of himself --- whose most exciting moment comes when he's standing in a corner, gun held at his side, as he utters the memorable phrase, "Uh huh."
_Rough Weather_ is embarrassingly bad. I cannot help but wonder if RBP had anything to do with it (just as I am convinced that Tom Clancy did not write _Red Rabbit_ nor _Teeth of the Tiger_). Irregardless, this is the last RBP title I will waste my time and money on. I'm just grateful that I read it on my Kindle so it only cost $9.99 instead of $27.00.
If you _must_ read it, borrow it from a friend, or check it out from the library --- Parker doesn't deserve to profit from this drivel --- he's sold us out.
- Quick read
Robert Parker's books are always a priority for me. I pre-order them and can't wait for them to come. My only problem is that they are so funny and fast paced that I read them in less than a day or two and then I'm left wanting more of Spenser, Susan, Hawk and the other recurring characters. I recommend this book to anyone who likes comedic mysteries in the same genre of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels. Get it read it and pass it along to someone else....more info
- The Gray Man is back!!!
I've been a big fan of the "Spenser" novels by Robert B. Parker (creator of the "Jesse Stone" series and author of the western, Appaloosa) since the mid-eighties when the television series, Spenser: For Hire, was on the air. That's over twenty years, which is a long time to be a fan of any author. Even now, I still see the late actor, Robert Urich, as Spenser and Avery Brooks as Hawk, and once a year when a new novel comes out, I get to sit down with two old friends for a few hours and escape into the world of Boston's favorite tough-guy P.I., which is always fun, exciting, and never boring.
The newest novel in the series is Rough Weather, and in this one, the Gray Man (a.k.a. Rugar) returns to give Spenser a run for his money. Rugar, an ex-government assassin, came close to killing Spenser nearly a decade ago. Now, when Spenser is hired by rich socialite, Heidi Bradshaw, to accompany her as a date/bodyguard at her daughter's wedding, Rugar and a team of killers who fly in to Tashtego Island on a helicopter, crash the event and kill several people, including the groom, and kidnap Heidi's daughter for a 4.5 million dollar ransom. All, however, is not what it seems. Spenser feels responsible for not being able to prevent the bloodbath (he was busy protecting the love of his life, Susan Silverman, who came with him to the wedding) and decides to make things right by finding out the truth behind what happened. His philosophy is that when you have no answers to your questions and your investigation is at a stand still, start annoying people and then sit back and wait to see what happens. Sure enough, it isn't long before the Gray Man pops back up and warns Spenser to back off or risk dying. Unfortunately, our favorite P.I. is like a pit bull with a chew bone and refuses to stop his investigation, but he doesn't take the Gray Man lightly and is smart enough to enlist the help of his old friend, Hawk, to cover his back. That's when a four-man hit team attempts to take him out, but to no avail. Four men aren't enough to take out Spenser and Hawk. Maybe twelve could do it, but not four. Spenser, however, keeps pushing and digging into Heidi's past and asking questions about why someone might want to kidnap her daughter. Everything builds to a climax at the end with the reader wondering if Spenser and the Gray Man will finally have a showdown with only one surviving.
First, let me say that I've never read a bad "Spenser" novel. I've enjoyed all of them, though some more than others. I certainly liked Rough Weather, especially the dialogue between Spenser and the Gray Man. That said, I was expecting more from the storyline with the Gray Man being back in Spenser's life. SPOILER ALERT! When Spenser first sees the Gray Man the day before the wedding, why didn't he say something to the bride's mother and to the security detail on the island? That could've saved some lives. Also, once Spenser saves Susan and finds a safe place for her to hide, why didn't he try to do something to prevent the kidnapping? Okay, he didn't have a gun and he would've been going up against the Gray Man and several of his men, but it seems as though he should have done a little more to try and stop what was happening. After all, this is Spenser! Finally, I was expecting, or at least hoping, for a dynamite climax between Spenser and the Gray Man at the end. Instead, it was rather low-keyed (about as explosive as a fire cracker) with no one paying for the deaths of several innocent people. In other words, the ending wasn't satisfying to me.
I believe that Rough Weather is a novel that most "Spenser" fans will enjoy. For someone new to the series, I would start back with the earlier books that were published during the seventies and eighties and then read forward to the present ones.
Last, but not least, if you're a "Jesse Stone" fan, Tom Selleck has a new TV movie, Thin Ice, coming out around January or February, plus there's a new novel, Night and Day, coming out at the end of February. So, all is not lost.
The methodical and unflappable Spenser never wavers, and despite the title of Parker's latest Spenser novel, Rough Weather, all seems calm in Spenser's capable hands. Spenser's client in this novel is the wealthy Heidi Bradshaw, a divorcee whose wealth came from divorcing rich husbands. She hires Spenser to stand by her on her private island for the wedding of her daughter. She already has island security, but wants something extra. Since Spenser's beloved Susan Silverman will be a guest, Spenser readily agrees. All seems to be going well until Spenser sees a familiar adversary: Rugar, the Gray Man. (Rugar almost killed Spenser in the 1977 novel Small Vices.) Before we know it, there's murder, kidnapping, and a wild storm. As readers have come to expect, the dialogue is always direct and repartee almost predictable.
Rating: Three-star (Recommended)...more info
- Casual entertainment
At first there was denial, surely Parker could still write great Spenser novels. Then there was anger why wasn't Parker writing great Spenser novels? Now there is acceptence that Parker can't write great Spenser novels but he can write ones that pass the time.
This is a good book for that 3 hour flight you have to take or the three hours you wait at the airport to take the flight. Nothing new happens but Susan is a little less irritating than usual and some of the action is solid.
Even with double spacing and many of the pages only half full this book still doesn't get to 300 pages so you'll get through it fast and if your fan of Robert B. Parker you might be like me and realize that he's going to keep writing these things and I guess I'll keep reading them....more info
- Several editing, continuity errors
I've always enjoyed the Spenser books, and others by Parker as well. However, there are at least 2 leaps in the narrative that I've found already and I'm not through with the book yet. "Heidi's" first marriage to the art professor is introduced without any prior reference to his name by any characters. Also, the "pediatrician" who say the kidnapped girl after her teen-age suicide attempt turns out to be a psychiatrist/psychologist a few pages later, again with no connection. Does Parker sell his books without any proofreader or editor now?
I also agree with other reviews who say the books are getting very predictable. Not as good as in the old days, eh?...more info
- A Real Dud!
I have never been a huge Parker fan, but this book takes the cake. I can't believe the boring, stupid dialog. The first grade primer "Fun with Dick and Jane" comes to mind.
I am listening to the audio read by Joe Mantegna. He's pretty bad as well.
I say, "Don't bother with this one."
- Let it be said that Robert B.Parker is in a category of his own - excellent!
I associate all good things in life with Robert Parker's writing - root beer floats, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, down filled quilts, rainbows - nothing quite makes me as happy as seeing a new Parker book - especially the Spenser character.
This started out as the rest - women - sex, women - sex - the banter between Susan and Spenser was great - but it seemed like Parker was holding back on the reader.
What really aggravated the situation was when Hawk finally appeared in the book the lines and humor were all there - but then before I could settle back in the chair and sigh - Hawk was gone and so was the dialogue.
There were many questionable items in the storyline. I can look over that - but I can't recover from the lack of Spenser & Hawk dialogue.
Please don't cut that short on us Mr. Parker! ...more info
- Mike Hammer's equal ....Spenser
Spenser is back with a great story well crafted by Robert B Parker. He has written 35 Spenser novel before this and quality seems to get better and better with each passing year
Spenser is hired to help Heidi Nradshaw with a minor security detail. It should be a straightforward job for Spenser: show up for appearances at Heidi's daughter's wedding and spend some quality time with his girlfriend Susan. Yet when his old nemesis Rugar-the Gray Man from Small Vices shows up and problems ensue. The daughter is kidnaped and Spenser never lets go of a losing case. With Hawk and Susan by his side, this white knight is on a quest for answers to questions that are unanswered in his mind
The plot twists and turns, this listener is thrilled. However, the ending in this piece seem rushed. Too pat, too final for a Spenser novel. For most mysteries it would be good, but here it seems lacking something. On the whole, it is a great piece of detective fiction with pulp fiction overtones
Joe Mantegna is a wizard behind a good story and most any audio he does. His vocal shadowing is that of legend. On this production, he is a craftsman and a vocal storyteller who can create an image clear as a sunny day with his voice. Blend this with Parker's winning text and you have a sure bet for a great audio time
Bennet Pomerantz AUDIOWORLD
- It's always enjoyable to see a high standard held to, and here Parker does
The Spencer For Hire novels are one of those really great series that continues to become better with time. Picking up a new one is like catching up with old friends, albeit ones that have a tendency to get in trouble a lot. Rough Weather continues Parker's run of quality writing, and he hasn't taken the easy way to money by farming out the writing to a "co-writer" as so many other authors seem to have done lately. Or, if he has, he picked incredibly well, and doesn't have to give them credit. In Rough Weather, Spencer is off to the private resort of Tashtego Island, acting as the escort and bodyguard to Heidi Bradshaw, an often married socialite, under the condition that he can bring along his longtime girlfriend. The trip is for the wedding of Heidi's daughter, and one of the guests is Spencer's occasional adversary, Rugar (the Gray Man). After the murder of the groom and the kidnapping of the bride, Spencer must unravel the mystery of both, under the gun of the Gray Man, and with a hurricane to cause disruption to everything, needs all the skills he's learned over the years. It's always enjoyable to see a high standard held to, and here Parker does....more info
- Go Away Susan
This Susan silliness has to go. Does Parker have an editor? Fire him/her. They aren't helping....more info
- Another fine Spenser!
I read Rough Weather in one sitting and it did not disappoint. It began the way lots of the Spenser books do--Spenser is hired to do a job that doesn't go exactly as planned. In this case, he's hired to escort an extremely wealthy woman to her daughter's wedding on a private island. The Gray Man from previous Spenser novels shows up and kidnaps the daughter amidst much mayhem and murder. Spenser, being Spenser, considers the outcome a failure on his part and sets out to get the daughter back, finding out that nothing and no one is as they seem. Discovery follows discovery until the surprising ending, in which Spenser makes a very Spenserlike decision to satisfy justice, if not the law.
Whenever a new Robert Parker hits the bookstore/library, I save it until I can sit down and read it all the way through. I love the way characters from previous books show up, the vignettes of Spenser's Boston, and admire Spenser's principals. I especially appreciate Mr. Parker's exquisite use of language, which gets more precise with each book. I know of no other contemporary author who can convey so much information with so few words.
Rough Weather contained all the elements I look forward to in a Parker book, the mystery was just as fun to unravel as it always is, and the ending was superb. In the everchanging and often disappointing world of detective fiction, Mr. Parker's Spenser is consistently wonderful....more info
- Spenser book
Another good Parker book with an almost surprise ending. I sort of figured it out about 3/4 of the way through the book, but it was fun reading. Robert Parker is a master and I love Spenser, Hawk, and Susan. Always fun to read about them. ...more info
- Parker fan baffled
I have been a Spenser fan for a long time (Spenser, not Stone or Randall) because the character is unique. How many people do you know in real life or in print who have a fully-integrated sense of self and a fully-formed world view. Spenser is such a character. So I will continue to read anything that Parker writes about this character. However, Robert B. Parker has developed some very annoying literary habits in his later years. He is frequently careless about time sequences and he does other things that irritate me but in "Rough Weather" he is just baffling.
In the beginning of Chapter 32 Spenser is sitting with Quirk across the table from two men whom Hawk apprehended as they were lying in wait for Spenser with the intent to kill him. Then the author says, "Beside them sat a smallish man with a lot of curly hair that stood straight out from his head. He had on a blue work shirt and a wrinkled sport coat in a small gray green check." Then this smallish man disappears from the novel entirely. Parker dropped this character into the story for a moment and then jerked him out for no apparent reason. Here is a mystery waiting to be solved. Did Parker accidently cut and paste this character from another story? Did he break off the writing after introducing this character and then resume and forget about him entirely?
This incident illustrates the only real problem I have with the later Spenser ongoing saga viz., that nobody is checking these manuscripts before they are published. Parker is so famous that his publishers probably are just thrilled to get another guaranteed best-seller and wouldn't dream of going through the manuscript for errors and apparently Parker, himself isn't proofing the manuscripts. However, Parker's many fans have given him the material wealth he enjoys today and I would think that a sense of honor would make hime want to give us of his best. If he has gotten to the point where he canot proof his own work then he should be hiring someone else to do it. Instead he is giving us very sloppy craftsmanship. Shame on you Mr. Parker....more info
- What You Would Expect - and Not Much More
This is exactly what you would expect from a Spenser novel; i.e.: witty dialogue, warmth and humor with Susan, warmth, humor and toughness with Hawk, Spenser beating up at least one muscle-bound tough, Hawk loyally at his side, moneyed people without scruples, Boston settings - which includes, of course, Spenser looking out his office window admiring female pedestrians below - and Pearl getting table scraps, long after Spenser has theorized with her only to not get a response from the dog. Don't forget Spenser's admittedly most effective strategy, which is to annoy the bad guys until they come after him. Add to this some of the usual supporting cast: Healy, Quirk and Tony Marcus and his underlings and you have the formula and now formulaic Spenser novel. All of the above was in this rendition.
Unlike much earlier Spenser novels, however, "Tough Money" does not include an engaging plot. It is regrettably predictable. Once you put together all the elements listed above in these increasingly short novels, there is not much room to include much complexity in the plot, I guess. There is very little tension in this book, even after a violent kidnapping on an island in the middle of a hurricane.
I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it like getting together for an evening with old friends. There may not be much new, but it is still a relaxing and enjoyable time together. If you've like Spenser all these years, this will be enjoying. I do wish, though, that Mr. Parker would get back to his more challenging mystery plots. The same conversations with the same friends can get old after a while without something new, or at least something exciting to talk about....more info
- A quick, addictive read, but ...
... does Parker have an editor?
I enjoyed this book. The pace was quick and the plot was highly original. It's always fun to follow Spenser as he gets information out of people by bugging them and cracking wise, Susan is nowhere near as obnoxious as we have seen her in past books, and Hawk and Pearl are always good company.
BUT there were a couple plot points that made me absolutely nuts. According to Spenser, Heidi Bradshaw is as famous as Jackie Onassis. Yet it took detective work to discover her birth name and her first husband? I'm supposed to believe that in more than 20 years, a woman as famous as Jackie O. was never investigated by an enterprising reporter? Try Google first, Spenser! Also, if Spenser adores Susan more than his next breath, why didn't he send her away from island as soon as the oh-so-dangerous Gray Man surfaced? The former may have just been sloppiness on Parker's part. The latter might easily have been explained, but never was.
I just wish a good editor had caught these and persuaded Parker to resolve these points before the book was published. When stuff like this gets through, it supports the assumption that these books are just pushed out and it detracts a bit from my enjoyment.
- Witty Dialogue, Stupid Crimes, and Poor Detection
Unless you feel that you must read every word that Robert B. Parker ever wrote about Spenser, you could skip Rough Weather and not miss a thing you need to know about the continuing characters. And you might like the series better if you did skip this book.
The good news is that Rough Weather has lots of humorous dialogue involving Spenser, Hawk, and Susan. Otherwise, the story would make you sea sick from its choppy plotting that combines a ridiculous crime scheme with ludicrous investigation methods. The bad news is that the dialogue opens little new ground for information or humor. As a result, many readers will have a hard time being sure this really is a new novel . . . rather than being a m¨¦lange of past novels stirred up to look like a tasty parfait, but containing ingredients that are not so delicious when combined.
What's it all about? In her late forties, Heidi Bradshaw has had three marriages to wealthy men and enjoys the lifestyle of a queen. Prior to an undefined special event on her private island, Tashtego, off the southern coast of Massachusetts, Heidi decides she needs a man around to make her feel better ("I want you to be the man I can turn to if I need something."). Spenser is the choice, and he agrees after Heidi agrees that Susan can attend.
Moving past the armed guards on the island for what turns out to be the wedding of Heidi's daughter, Spenser can't figure out what his role is . . . until he spots Rugar, the Grey Man who has been both an enemy and an ally, among the guests and wonders what's up. Rugar observes, "I hope we are not here in conflicting missions." Susan later comments, "It's as if Rugar has no soul."
Naturally, the issue is quickly resolved when Rugar leads an armed band into the wedding to kidnap the bridge and dispatch those who oppose him. A storm comes up unexpectedly, and Rugar cannot leave the island. Spenser decides that the best he can do is look out for Susan, and let Heidi, et al, fend for themselves.
But that doesn't end the matter. Wrong has invaded Spenser's turf and he feels responsible to sort matters out. Working with various police and federal agencies, Spenser gradually sorts out the reasons behind the murderous marriage vows.
Unless you aren't paying attention as you read, you'll figure out what the game is pretty early in the book. The only mystery will be why Spenser and the police have so much trouble. The answer might be related to the need to turn this weak story into something longer than a novella.
The worst news is that the book's ending suggests the possibility of a sequel. Yuck!