Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Big Sleep for Mr. Parker

Yesterday, the world lost the mystery writer Robert B. Parker. He died at age 77 at his desk. I hope he was writing, and I hope he was so engrossed in his story that he didn’t even realize what was happening to him. I can’t think of a better way for a writer to go.

Mr. Parker was probably best known for his Spenser novels. But in saluting his life, we must note that he held a Ph. D. in literature from Boston University. His dissertation was a study of classic mystery writers Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald. What better foundation for a craftsman of this particular genre?

I’ve read a fairly large stack of Mr. Parker’s novels, but last night I was moved to hunt down his very first. It’s The Godwulf Manuscript, published in 1973, and it’s the first Spenser novel. Here’s a line from an early scene in the book:

“She was wearing something in purple suede that was too short for a skirt and too long for a belt.”

Ah, they don’t write ‘em like that anymore.

Rest easy, Mr. Parker. Thanks for the many years of entertainment you gave the world. Thanks for your attention to the details of your craft. And thanks for showing the rest of us how it’s done.

1 comment:

Mark Wolfgang said...

Susan! Thanks for your tribute. This came as a shock. I'd just ordered the latest Jesse Stone last weekend. Hard to imagine a future w/o Spenser, Jesse, Sunny, and the guys from Appaloosa (sorry, I forget their names). As hard as it was to imagine no more Robert Urich waiting in the wings to play Spenser one more time.