Skip to main content

Robert B. Parker's Little White Lies: A Spenser Novel

Review

Robert B. Parker's Little White Lies: A Spenser Novel

It occurred to me while reading LITTLE WHITE LIES, the latest installment in Robert B. Parker’s Spenser canon, that Ace Atkins has been at the reins of this iconic series long enough that newcomers may not have even read the books that were written by the series’ creator. I don’t know if such a reader exists, but if so, I would recommend dipping back into the series so that you not only experience the joy of Parker’s talents but also appreciate the degree and extent to which Atkins has captured the mood and cadence of Spenser and the supporting cast --- and continues to do so.

LITTLE WHITE LIES takes place in the immediate aftermath of SLOW BURN, with Spenser in living quarters that may or may not be temporary following the arson that destroyed his familiar lodging. While Atkins has bid farewell to some elements of what has gone before and introduced a new character or two over the course of his tenure, he is also finding cause to reintroduce older (in some cases, much older) characters in the series and giving them a familiar voice. He does this to perfection here while also deftly and cleverly handling the issue of Spenser’s age, which crops up occasionally. Additionally, Atkins gives the series one of its more complex plots, although it starts off simply enough.

The basic motivator of the story could have earned the book the title “He Done Her Wrong.” That, actually, would be an understatement. The tale begins with Spenser receiving a client referral from Dr. Susan Silverman, a psychiatrist who is also his soulmate for life…or something like that (as is more than well known to devotees of this iconic series). The client is Connie Kelly, who met a gentleman named M. Brooks Welles through an online dating service. Welles exhibited an air of confidence, competence and mystery, the latter emanating from his vague but interesting stories about working for the CIA in faraway places, fraught with danger. Furthermore, Welles had been a frequent contributor to national news shows, giving on-air opinions about various issues of the day.

"LITTLE WHITE LIES has everything one might want or wish for in a Spenser novel: an interesting mystery, explosions, fisticuffs, that wonderful dialogue, Hawk, Spenser and Silverman."

Connie was charmed right out of her socks (among other things). The problem --- and the reason for her consultations with Silverman and the referral to Spenser --- is that Welles disappeared after convincing Connie to make a six-figure investment in a project of his, leaving her nothing but memories, a major heartache, and a more-than-depleted bank account.

Spenser begins the sleuthing he does so well, but before he can locate the elusive Welles, the man surfaces on his own, asking for Connie’s forgiveness. She ultimately accepts his apology, and Spenser finds that he is out of a job as the lovebirds get back together. Spenser, though, finds out the hard way that proximity to Welles is a very dangerous place to be, and not just for himself. When the romance goes wrong again, Spenser, with the ever-loyal and always-dangerous Hawk in tow, leaves the familiar environs of Boston for points south, where they learn that Welles’ lonely hearts gambit is just the tip of his spear, so to speak.

Welles is a compulsive liar, and if that wasn’t bad enough, he is up to his neck in a dangerous criminal enterprise. The problem is that he just might get away with it, even with Spenser, Hawk and a couple of other faces aligned against him. You will have to read the book all the way to the end to find out.

LITTLE WHITE LIES has everything one might want or wish for in a Spenser novel: an interesting mystery, explosions, fisticuffs, that wonderful dialogue, Hawk, Spenser and Silverman. That said, there is a small, uncharacteristic glitch that keeps it from being one of my favorites. I find it hard to believe that in this day and age of 24-hour news cycles, YouTube, facial recognition software accessible to 10-year-olds and the like, Welles could carry out the high-profile deceptions that he does without someone catching wind of them long before he ever met Connie.

It’s not a major deal, ultimately --- no one really reads Spenser for the villains --- and it certainly won’t deter me from reading Atkins’ next book in the series or recommending it to you, whether you are a new reader to the series or a stalwart from the 1970s.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 19, 2017

Robert B. Parker's Little White Lies: A Spenser Novel
by Ace Atkins

  • Publication Date: May 2, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0399177000
  • ISBN-13: 9780399177002