"But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil." -- Romans 13:5 (NKJV)
I once heard Robert B. Parker remark that he didn't care if publishers didn't bring out his latest novels right away, just as long as the advance checks didn't bounce. Despite the loss of this prolific novelist, there are still a few more books to come out . . . so this is not farewell. I'm glad of that, both because I want more Spenser and because Painted Ladies isn't the right book for the series to end on.
As the book opens, Spenser takes on a job that doesn't thrill him, chaperoning an unappealing popinjay professor who will be taking a ransom to exchange for a valuable stolen painting. The hand-off doesn't go as planned for the professor or for Spenser, and Spenser finds himself in the role of solitary avenger (there's no Hawk in this story) with a few helpful nudges from his friends in the police. The plot heads off into a more remote direction than you might expect in the beginning, and it takes awhile to see who all the bad people are. Once the players are in place, you'll probably deduce the outcome before Spenser does. But that's all right; you're in it for the wisecracks, aren't you?
Like many of the more recent Spenser stories, it's bare bones and it won't take you long to read it. But despite that, Robert B. Parker charms us with Pearl's romance and lots of Spenser and Susan together. "Ain't love grand?"
Unfortunately, this book is also available in what seems like a particularly overpriced Kindle version. Does the publisher still think that greed is good?