Robert B. Parker – an obituary

A few words about Robert B. Parker. Now sadly, the late Robert B. Parker, a Grand Master of American crime writing, and deservedly so. Parker has been writing crime novels for forty years, and produced an eye watering number in that time. I make it sixty four, but that does include a few westerns and one or two on other subjects. I counted that I have over sixty in my collection, not including, I must confess Training With Weights. But more importantly as far as I’m concerned, is that Parker was one of the main reasons I started writing crime novels myself. Of course there are some out there who won’t be thanking him for that. His easy way of writing made me think it would be easy to write myself, but in fact it was, and is, a lot harder to do than I thought. Over the years he pared down his style, chopping out any fat, but after his death I dug out my original copy of God Save The Child, his second novel, published in 1974, and the difference from the Parker of the twenty-first century is incredible.

He had three main protagonists. Spenser, a Boston, private eye who was a direct descendant of Philip Marlowe, Jesse Stone, an alcoholic police chief, and not so popular (at least with me) Sunny Randall, a female PI, who Parker wrote in the first person, and when describing his/her problems with his/her panty hose rather lost me. Sunny turns up in Parker’s latest novel Split Image (Quercus H/B £18.99) due out now, which features her and Jesse Stone, (but thankfully no panty hose action), who get involved with a religious sect on one hand, and two gangsters married to a pair of twins on the other, who believe in the motto that it’s really best to keep everything, and I mean everything, in the family.

Parker was a prodigious writer, often putting out two or three books a year, and I believe there are a couple more in the pipeline including a western due from Atlantic Publishing later this year. Of course with a work load like that, some were not up to his high standard, but even a mediocre Parker beat most other crime novels into a cocked hat.

I’ll be sorry to see the end of them, as it was always a pleasure to see a new Parker in the shops, or latterly dropping through the letterbox for review.

He died at his desk working on his next project.


Finished the new Peter James novel now. Excellent stuff. Look out for a review in June. Had a weekend of soundtracks: The Wicker Man in coloured vinyl on Music On Vinyl, The Hills Run Red on West Records and Hang ’Em High on United Artists. But the best version of the latter’s theme is by Booker T & The M.G’s on a yellow Stax 45, with a bass line that could blow the roof off. DVD wise it’s The Bill first three series box set through Network, as I’m writing a book about Cop shows for No Exit, but more of that later.

One single comment

  1. lynda hugen-tobler(nee curtis) says:

    Lost your contact details after des’s funeral, but i did send the book hope you got it, please get in touch hope you and yours are well

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