Book Review – Walking Shadow

Walking Shadow
by Robert B. Parker

Walking Shadow is the 21st Spenser novel. It is one of the better ones in this middle era for the series. (Note: spoilers)

Spenser is in Port City, a fictitious city that’s near Boston, but the reader is unclear exactly where. The beginning is a bit atypical for a detective novel, and by association, a Spenser novel. There’s something about a client coming into the office with a job (and a secret) that is satisfying to the reader. This story starts with a description of the fictitious place, and the people in it. There’s a large Chinese community. It’s a fishing town. But there’s an avant-garde theater. I must admit, I didn’t really like it. I didn’t want exposition, I wanted a damsel.

Fortunately, we soon get a murder, and a couple of damsels, some of whom are seemingly in distress.

Spenser’s long-time love, Susan, has a friend who runs a theater company in the town. He’s being stalked. Can Spenser help find out who is stalking him? Oh, and by the way, Spenser won’t get paid because theater directors don’t actually have any money. This happens a lot in Spenser novels. He takes a lot of work pro bono. Anyway, he agrees.

Later that evening, at the theater, while people are watching, one of the players is shot with a rifle on stage. There are a range of potential killers. A Chinese theater benefactor, a buxom actress, a Police Chief, and the Chinese mafia, the Kwan Chang Tong. That’s a pretty good set up.

One thing that’s different in this novel is that there are few political figures. Often, Spenser has to take on some senator or some such. Often, the bad guys are organized crime. Walking Shadow was no exception. However, this time, Spenser is out of his depth, knowing nothing of Chinese culture in Port City. And while the Chinese characters are somewhat one-dimensional, so are many of the white characters, as well.

Turns out, it was the manipulative buxom actress who was the stalker, and there was a love triangle and jealousy that led the Tong leader to kill the actor on stage. And the Police Chief had a mad crush on the buxom actress, and pummeled the Tong leader to death. So there were plenty of twists. I wish that Spenser would stop saying that he doesn’t know how to proceed, so he’ll just keep sticking his nose into people’s affairs, however. I kind of want the sleuth to, you know, deducify his way out. But the core of the story, the love triangles, the power struggles, and the underworld involvement was good enough to satisfy.


2 thoughts on “Book Review – Walking Shadow

  1. Robert B. Parker truly entertains. Walter Mosley is supposed to be a ReadAlike author but I haven’t checked that out. Robert B. died in 2010 so you’ve a way to go to finish his library of entertaining stories – read on.


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