I'm an avid Robert B. Parker fan---Spenser lives in my mind, and I enjoying adventuring with him. "Early Autumn" strikes me as one of Parker's most touching stories, focusing on the the intereactions of Spenser and a troubled teen, Paul Giacomin. Besides Spenser's unfailing wit, he throws out some great comments and admonitions about growing up. What makes Spenser's remarks even more satisfying is that in the discourse between Paul and Spenser, things are not neat and tidy. Life is not always fair, nor do we always control the awful events that sometimes hit us like a solid left hook. But Spenser also assures Paul that individuals can control many things in their own lives, and that's where our focus needs to be.
Like so many others, I feel that this is about the best Spenser book of all. It is sensitive without being mawkish, the story moves well, and you get a wonderful sense of Spenser's values. This is a book to buy, read, and re-read every few years.
This is one of my two favorite Spenser books (The other is A Savage Place.) Early Autumn was the first Parker book I ever read and also the first suspense/mystery. My parents and brothers all read Spenser but I shunned them, preferring scifi. I was desparate for a read one summer night and my mother pressed this on me, saying "You'll like this if you just give it a chance" I was 15 and I read it that night, reporting back to her bedroom and saying, "Next Book! More! More!" This book is about Spenser's surrogate fathering of a lost 15 year old boy named Paul who is a pawn in his own life. It is sort of a coming of age novel, but really not because it is told from Spenser's perspective like all the Spenser books. This is one of my favorite books of all time. I highly recommend it to any Spenser fan or to any one who remembers 15 and that lost in your own life feeling.