Ronald Kidd - March 12, 2021

Capsule Reviews

Spenser and Reacher:
Passing the Torch

I enjoy reading history, biography, and science, but in between I like to kick back and enjoy. When I do, two of my favorite characters are Spenser and Reacher.

Spenser is the late Robert B. Parker’s creation, a wisecracking foodie detective with big biceps, a therapist girlfriend, and his best buddy, the mysterious Hawk, a kind of hip, literate violence consultant whom Spenser brings in when things heat up.

Reacher, dreamed up by Lee Child, is a former MP without a home who, packing only a toothbrush, rides buses from place to place, finds problems, and solves them using his brain, fists, and assorted weapons.

I’m now tearing through the latest Spenser, Someone to Watch Over Me. Pondering the plot, I decided the appeal of both Spenser and Reacher is pretty simple. They find bad guys, fight them, and win. As simple as it sounds, the formula is compelling, and I find myself turning the pages eagerly.

But the books have more going for them than a formula. They’re both written with great style, even though the authors have changed and are changing. Since the death of Robert B. Parker, Ace Atkins has continued the Spenser series without missing a beat. Lee Child is still around, but his latest, The Sentinel, was co-written with his younger brother, Andrew Child, who will be taking over the series.

Some people look down their noses at thrillers and mysteries, but these books can rise above the genre when they’re well-crafted and when the characters jump off the page to take on a life of their own.

More about Someone to Watch Over Me

More about The Sentinel

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