Thursday, January 19, 2012

Looking for Rachel Wallace by Robert B. Parker

Private Investigator

Review by Joanne Cronin

Main Characters: Spenser, private investigator; Susan Silverman, his counselor girlfriend; Rachel Wallace, lesbian feminist author

Series: Spenser

Publication date: 1980

Setting: Boston

Point of View: First person, Spenser.

Style/Pacing:  Starts slowly but hooks the reader quickly.

Plot: Spenser is a wisecracking knight-errant hired to guard Rachel Wallace, a radical lesbian feminist author who has been receiving death threats. They are polar opposites in every way, and when Spenser’s politically incorrect job performance angers Rachel, she fires him.  Then she is kidnapped. Spenser to the rescue…

Humor: Wisecracks aplenty.

Emotional impact/ Degree of violence: Spenser is not afraid to use the tools available to fight for justice and support his moral code. Fists and bullets fly, but the villains get their just desserts. The pull of opposite worldviews exemplified by Spenser and Rachel – and how one depends on the other- gives this title a special emotional kick.

Sex/Vulgarity:  Sex implied but not described. Some swearing.

Issue Driven: Sex/gender roles, homophobia.

Other notes: A fairly early title in the Spenser series.  Spenser is a detective in the Sam Spade/Philip Marlowe mold, but, unlike those archetypes, he has a life; a permanent girlfriend, a fondness for gourmet cooking and a more intellectual mindset that the standard PI.

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