Robert Parker, R.I.P.

I started reading Robert B. Parker detective novels in 1973 when he published “The Godwulf Manuscript.”  Once he got rolling, he wrote a new book every six months or so and I looked forward to them and checked them out of the library and read them like I used to read Nancy Drew stories when I was a kid. Or I’d listen to them on tape. He’s written so many, over such a stretch of time, that I can listen to them more than once without remembering in advance exactly what’s going to happen. These days, he’s the only author that I treat this way… Jesse Stone is one of his ongoing characters and I was delighted to see Stone show up in a TV movie, with Tom Selleck doing the honors, back in 2005. I like Tom Selleck. He was, and still is, too old for the part, but I’m giving him a pass cause he’s Tom Selleck. The movie (Jesse Stone: Stone Cold (2005)) is true to the series and the Stone character and is as light and fluffy as the Parker books. Just something for a Parker fan to sit back and enjoy, especially knowing that there are four more after this one, and counting. The Spenser TV show never interested me, but then I wasn’t watching TV when it ran anyway (R.I.P., Robert Urich, liver (?) cancer, 55)… More recently, Parker turned out some westerns, and one of them, Appaloosa (2008), found the screen. Didn’t do so well critically or commercially, but it fit the book to a T. No better possible actor for it than Ed Harris. The book has two sequels; bring back Harris for another turn… Anyway, Parker dropped dead at his writing desk, just as my other lifetime favorite, John D. McDonald. Got to go find somebody else to like. Guys like George Pelacanos and Richard Price are swell, but they don’t crank out the lightweight material like Parker did.

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