"Machismo got a bad name starting with the feminist movement, where it was used to label male behavior that women found offensive," the novelist Robert B. Parker once told Amanda Smith in a Publisher's Weekly interview. "But if you called it a commitment to honorable behavior, it wouldn't sound half so bad. . . . To act courageously and to refuse to be dishonored isn't a bad code." Parker's stand-up fictional protagonist, Spenser--he goes tersely by his last name in the books--is machismo with a Parker twist. He's a gumshoe, a PI, the inheritor of a long line of tradition from fellow traveler's in the hard-boiled school of detective fiction, all the way from Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade and Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe to Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer. Like those earlier doyens of the genre, Spenser is flip and fast-talking, as quick with his fists as he is with his mouth. But unlike them, he is not an existential loner. An outsider, perhaps, but definitely linked to the world through his psychotherapist girlfriend, Susan Silverman, and sometimes sidekick, Hawk.
Unmarried, still Spenser is attached. And the relationship between him and Susan, developing slowly over the years, has in part kept readers coming back for more throughout the two dozen plus novels in the Spenser series. Newgate Callendar itemized the ingredients for the success of the Spenser books in a New York Times Book Review critique of Parker's eleventh title in the series, The Widening Gyre. Callendar describes him as a man's man, a former professional fighter who will not back down to any opposition. Yet, he is honest and sensitive. "Spenser may be something of a smart aleck but only when he is faced with pomposity and pretension," Callendar said. "Then he reacts, sometimes violently." While Spenser is educated and well read, he does not flaunt his knowledge. Moreover, his girlfriend is the perfect foil and as smart as he. "Pushed as he is by his social conscience, he is sometimes dogged enough to seem quixotic," Callendar added.
Though the adjusted nose angle and scar tissue around the eyes attest to his former career as a boxer, Spenser is no mere quasi-legal hired thug: he likes the finer things, noting with intense detail his dining habits--usually gourmet--and dress--causal but not sloppy. Spenser is literate--his musing allusions range from Greek tragedy to pop music--but such knowledge does not prevent him from taking the law into his own hands if need be. Indeed, Spenser often places himself above the law, devising his own chivalric code of honor. This private code of honor is a persistent Parker/Spenser theme, creating a sniff of Hemingway, and this was noted by David Geherin in his Sons of Sam Spade, The Private-Eye Novel in the 70s. "The pervasive influence of Hemingway can be seen in all of Parker's writing," Geherin remarked. More to the point, Parker himself, through the character of Susan, is aware of this debt. At one point in the third book in the series, Mortal Stakes, Susan tells Spenser that he ought to lose all this "Hemingwayesque nonsense."
A reviewer in Time, critiquing Taming a Sea-Horse, remarked that while the hero of the traditional hard-boiled detective novel got the girls, the villains, and the money, "Robert B. Parker, the genre's leading writer, resurrects a more chivalric code for his beefy detective Spenser." Chivalric is the operative word here, for Parker's hero consciously re-creates a knight's code of honor, albeit a very contemporary code for a late twentieth-century knight. "Part of Robert Parker's charm lies in the Romantic vision that he describes in his Spenser novels," wrote D. M. Bakker in an extended Armchair Detective review of Parker's Pale Kings and Princes. "The title character, Spenser, embodies all that we have come to expect of the 'guys in the white hats': he has the strength of ten, and he always wins because he is pure of heart. The conflicts in which Parker involves his character are worthy of so gallant a knight because they are for mortal stakes." Spenser is a "romantic diddle," as Susan calls him in the 1989 Playmates over a dinner of roast pheasant and Peking Duck, preceded by sweet and sour Thai soup and black bean cake. The novelist Frederick Busch noted in a Chicago Tribunes Book review of Pale Kings and Princes that "Spenser is our representative, carrying what light is left to us and standing up against what organized crime has most to do with: self-indulgent bullies."
Romantic, heroic, or just plain smash-mouth, Spenser has found a legion of loyal fans across a wide spectrum of readers, not the least of them teens. For this last group Parker's snappy dialogue provides speed-of-light readability, and his emphasis on themes from child pornography and kidnapping to college athletics, as well as his use of many younger secondary characters, draw the young adult audience and adults. Armchair Detective reviewer Anne Ponder called Parker's Spenser books "the best American hard boiled detective fiction since Ross Macdonald and Raymond Chandler," and reader affection for the novels spawned a television series adapted from the Spenser books.
The Artist as Professor
Parker is, as Smith pointed out in Publishers Weekly, "primarily a Massachusetts product." He was born in Springfield and raised there and in New Bedford. When it came time for college, he stayed in New England, attending Colby College in Maine. After college, he served two years in the army in Korea, then returned to Massachusetts where he earned a master's in English at Boston University. Parker married in 1956 and began a family, ultimately consisting of two sons. Writing, an early ambition, was put on hold while he earned a living. He took jobs as a technical and advertising copy writer for six years until he became a lecturer in English at Boston University in 1962. "I had to support everybody and I didn't have the time to write," Parker noted in an interview with Contemporary Authors (CA). "But I had always wanted to, and I manipulated myself (and Joan [his wife] helped me considerably in that) into a position of being a college professor so that I would have time to write, which I then did."
Parker's academic career took him to a half dozen small colleges in and around Boston as he progressed from instructor to assistant professor to associate and full professor of English. He earned a doctorate in English from Boston University with his thesis on detective novelists, comparing Chandler, Hammett, and Macdonald. Smith noted in Publishers Weekly that the writing of his thesis took Parker only two weeks. The doctorate earned Parker a full professorship at Boston's Northeastern University, and also educated him in the ways of genre writing.
When he began his first book, it was little wonder that it turned out to be a detective novel, or that it owed a great deal to Chandler. Parker has noted that he set out consciously to imitate Chandler in his early books. "Originally, Spenser came out to be the second coming of Philip Marlowe," Parker told Joseph A. Cincotti in a review of Pastime in the New York Times Book Review. He went on to tell Cincotti that in the early books "I made every effort to write just like Raymond Chandler. The degree to which those early books are different is the degree to which I failed in my attempt." The very name of Parker's hero echoes Chandler's. The latter named his protagonist after the Elizabethan dramatist and author of Dr. Faustus; Parker's Spenser is named after the Elizabethan poet and author of The Fairie Queene. Increasingly however, as the Spenser series gained in popularity, Parker went his own way with the conventions of the private-eye form. As Geherin noted, "Parker is . . . attempting to extend the dimensions of the detective novel." Geherin went on to explain that Parker was pushing the envelope of the genre by "combining elements of the hard-boiled novel with his own interest in the psychology of his characters and their relationships, and with a critical attitude toward contemporary America and American values. . . ."
Parker's first novel, The Godwulf Manuscript, written in his spare time over the course of several years, was sold within three weeks of completion. In it, much of Parker's fictional world is established: the Boston locale, Spenser the romantic hero battling the wrongs of society, and the snappy dialogue about which reviewers continually rave. Spenser is called in to investigate the disappearance of a fourteenth-century illuminated manuscript from a college library. As Callendar put it in the New York Times Book Review of the novel, "Along the way he runs into student activists, the Mob, drugs, sex and the usual package." Callendar also noted that in this first novel, Parker had created the "very exemplar" of the private eye species: "a tough, wise-cracking, unafraid, lonely, unexpectedly literate type."
Over the next five years, Parker wrote four more Spenser novels, each one gaining the series more readers. Finally in 1979, Parker was able to quit teaching and devote himself full time to his first love, writing. As Parker noted in his CA interview, teaching "was not a labor of love." Rather, he went into it looking for a way to have more time to devote to writing. "I'm not terribly happy with the academic world," Parker said in CA, but he puts it much more strongly in the words of a character in Playmates. Discovering that one of her students, a star college basketball player, cannot read, a young assistant professor explains how this could happen: "It happens because nobody gives a goddamn. Me included. The students are the necessary evil in the teaching profession. Otherwise it's a pretty good deal. You don't work hard, you have a lot of time off. The pay's not much, but nobody hassles you. You can read and write and publish, pretty well unimpeded except for the students. Most of us don't like them much."
Parker, however, is not totally negative about his years of education and teaching. He took from his study of English and American literature "a kind of allusiveness," as he told CA. "I think whatever resonance I may be able to achieve is in part simply from the amount of reading and learning that I acquired along the way. So [the Ph.D.] probably helped. I don't think that I would be writing differently if I didn't have it, in terms of style, but I think there's a dimension to my work that I wouldn't have if I'd had much less education."
The Spenser Novels
The second Spenser novel, God Save the Child, introduced his future paramour, Susan Silverman, a novelistic device that initiated the social network that Spenser develops over the course of the books. The fourth in the series, the award-winning Promised Land, brings Hawk on board, Spenser's black alter ego. Hawk, a mob enforcer, often teams up with Spenser to don the white hat. Several books later, Paul Giacomin, who plays the role of surrogate son to the childless Spenser, makes his entrance. Featured in Early Autumn, he makes return performances in The Widening Gyre and Pastime. In addition to these usual suspects, Parker also hosts a band of other secondary bad guys, cops, and enforcers who appear and re-appear throughout the series.
Early books in the series, are, as Parker admits, conscious pastiches of Chandler, though even by the second in the series, God Save the Child, in which Spenser is hired to find a fifteen-year-old boy, the author has begun to find his own voice. Callendar, in the New York Times Book Review, noted that it "is more deft, smoother and sharper in characterization," and "has a great deal more personality and character" than the first. By his third book, Mortal Stakes, with its baseball setting, Parker seemed to have hit his stride. Reviewing the book in the London Times, mystery writer H. R. F. Keating noted that a "literary strain has been present more or less in all [Parker's] novels. . . . There is a concern with human beings that rises at times to compassion. . . ." Keating went on to point out that this seriousness "is always well compensated for by Parker's dialogue." The wise-cracking Spenser carries the story along with his wit and observations of the American scene.
Parker's fourth Spenser novel, Promised Land, won him an Edgar Allan Poe Award. In this tale, Spenser is hired to locate a runaway wife, and when he does Spenser soon finds that the woman has problems with the mob, problems that are ultimately sorted out with the help of Hawk. In a review of Promised Land, a Publishers Weekly contributor stated that "Robert Parker energizes this gritty, professionally honed yarn with flashes of comic dialogue. . . ." Callendar, however, writing in the New York Times Book Review, felt that Spenser's philosophizing might have gotten out of hand: "There is more navel-watching here than at a convention of gurus." In his fifth novel, The Judas Goat, Spenser, hired by a millionaire, goes to London and Europe to track down the right-wing terrorists who killed the man's wife and daughters and left him, the millionaire, crippled. Not much navel watching here; the book is filled with action and adventure.
Throughout the novels appearing in the 1980s, Spenser continued to build his code of honor, taking on cases from protecting a lesbian writer in Looking for Rachel Wallace, to dealing with the sexual exploitation of children in Ceremony and Taming a Sea-Horse, to investigating drug smuggling in Pale Kings and Princes and Pastime. Spenser even becomes involved in the cut-throat world of politics in The Widening Gyre and takes part in a medieval quest in A Catskill Eagle. In the latter title, Spenser must save Susan from a rival suitor. Along the way he gets help from a lesbian journalist and an older psychotherapist as well as some secretive U.S. agencies. While some reviewers found a weakening of the series during these years, others found the character of wise-cracking Spenser a welcome relief. Of Ceremony, Robin W. Winks remarked in the New Republic, that "Parker hasn't been this good since Promised Land, though even when he is bad he is good." While Paul Stuewe, writing in Quill and Quire, felt the series had "hit the bottom" with A Catskill Eagle and that Spenser "no longer seems to inspire his creator," a critic in Time called that same book Parker's "best mystery novel," and concluded that Parker "brings off the baroque and potentially murky tale with characteristic clarity, humor and excitement." If the reviewers could not agree among themselves, the reading public could: each successive Spenser title was bound for the bestseller lists.
For his part, Parker does not read the reviews. "I don't read anything about myself," Parker told CA. "Criticism and reviews are not useful to writers, they're useful to other people. I have not read any of it in years." Parker does what a writer should do--he writes. "When I finish one book, I have some TV and movie stuff that I fiddle around with. And after a couple of months, I sit down and think up the next book. It takes a few months, probably, or a few weeks; or sometimes, if I'm lucky, about five days. I make a two- or three-page treatment of the basic story, develop that into a chapter outline, and then I write the book. I write five pages a day each weekday. I don't revise in any significant degree. When it's done, I send it in and they print it and publish it."
Never a great note taker, Parker does little research for his books. "What I do is write about places I can write about without having to leave my desk, so I don't have to do research," Parker told CA. Parker's plots come out of his own interests--in sports, in psychology, and in what makes people tick. "I don't know any crooks or wiseguys" Parker told Cincotti in the New York Times Book Review. "I don't know anything about fingerprinting or ballistics or any of that stuff, and if you're good you can fake most of that. I don't do research." However, Parker did admit to Cincotti one small bit of research--the purchase of a Browning 9-millimeter pistol, the type that Spenser carries.
Many reviewers noted an uplift in the series with the 1991 Pastime, which once again featured Paul Giacomin, introduced as a fifteen-year-old in Early Autumn. In that book, Spenser saves the boy from his divorced parents; in Pastime Spenser helps Paul find his missing mother in a novel that Bruce Cook, writing in the Chicago Tribune, called "the best Spenser novel in years, possibly the best ever." Catherine Foster remarked in the Christian Science Monitor that Parker "manages to combine a delicately nuanced psychological study of family relationships with a hard-boiled mystery" in this eighteenth Spenser novel. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Michael Anderson presented a state-of-the-series declaration in his review of Pastime: "Spenser's sagas are less tales of ratiocination than fables of exemplary conduct. . . . Throughout the 18 novels, Mr. Parker has provided a continuing narrative on the refinement of a moral sensibility. . . . Spenser's endeavors to act honestly and honorably." Reviewing Parker's 1989 Playmates, R. W. B. Lewis provided a similar summation of the series in the New York Times Book Review. Lewis noted that by about the sixth Spenser title "it was clear that we were witnessing one of the great series in the history of the American detective story." Lewis also felt that the series let down with some books in the 1980s, resorting to the "chase-and-rescue" format in stories with "double-digit"`body counts. However, Lewis concluded that with Playmates, the series had revived itself and provided a cause for "wonder and rejoicing." The popularity of the Spenser books inspired a television series, Spenser: For Hire, based on the famous shamus, which lasted two seasons.
Further novels of the 1990s include, among others, Double Deuce, set in a Boston housing project and dealing with the drive-by shooting of a teenage mother; Walking Shadow, wherein Spenser must solve a murder in the artistic world of experimental theater; Thin Air, set in a depressed Massachusetts factory town and dealing with the kidnapping of a cop's wife; and Small Vices, in which Spenser is nearly killed. Reviews of these ran the familiar gamut between complaints about a tired series and enthusiastic praise announcing a rebound. Almost all reviewers, however, agreed on the reliability of Parker's dialogue to deliver. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Loren D. Estleman noted of Double Deuce that it "is a lean welterweight of a book" and that its "prose is taut, the language spare and to the point." Estleman concluded that "As a writer perfects his craft his books should get shorter, not longer. In the age of bloated best sellers, Robert B. Parker upholds that rule virtually single-handedly."
Throughout the series, the relationship between Susan and Spenser also grows, so that by Walking Shadow, the twenty-first Spenser novel, the two have purchased an old farmhouse near Concord together. Can wedding bells be far distant? For Geherin, writing in The Sons of Sam Spade, The Private-Eye Novel in the 70s, this romantic alliance is one of the features of Parker's books that sets them apart from the rest. "Parker's handling of Spenser's relationship with Susan effectively disproves [Raymond] Chandler's assertion that the love story and the detective novel cannot exist in the same book," Geherin wrote. "Not only do they coexist in Parker's novels, the love story adds an element of tension by serving as a poignant reminder of the vast differences that separates the mean streets from the quiet ones."
Other Mean Streets
Though best known for his Spenser series, Parker has also written several non-series novels: Wilderness, Love and Glory, and All Our Yesterdays. These range in storyline from the tale of a man who must take the law into his own hands to protect his wife from a psychopathic gangster in Wilderness, to the Boston-Irish family drama of All Our Yesterdays. While reviewers were not as kind to these mainstream novels as with Parker's Spenser books, they mostly agreed with New York Times Book Review critic Walter Walker, writing of All Our Yesterdays that bottom line Parker provides "a most satisfying reading experience."
Parker proved himself the heir to the Raymond Chandler legacy when that writer's estate approached him to complete an unfinished Chandler novel, Poodle Springs. One-upping that accomplishment, Parker also went on to write a sequel to Chandler's classic The Big Sleep with his Perchance to Dream. More interesting for Parker's series fans is the new set of tales he is building around Jesse Stones, a former Los Angeles cop with a heavy drinking problem. With the 1997 series premiere, Night Passage, Stones is hired as police chief of Paradise, Massachusetts, brought on board because the city fathers think they can control him. Reviewing that book in Entertainment Weekly, Gene Lyons noted that Parker "has rarely composed a bad sentence or an inert paragraph," and that he was "the reigning champion of the American toughguy detective novel." The second book in the series, Trouble in Paradise, features Stones battling a ruthless gang of thieves as he fights his personal demons, according to a Publishers Weekly critic who concluded that "Parker fans and all who love muscular crime will appreciate this tale."
Meanwhile, Parker is also continuing the Spenser series, for which he may always be best known. In the final analysis it is the brawny ex-boxer with a taste for fine food and punchy one-liners who is Parker's bread and butter. As Parnell Hall remarked in a 1994 New York Times Book Review critique of Walking Shadow, "Spenser is aging gracefully, and if he has lost a step along the way, he is still the cockiest and wittiest P.I. on the block. He is also a hero, . . . a knight in shining armor born 500 years too late, a champion of the underdog. In an age of cynicism, he is someone you can still identify with, care about and root for."
Spenser may have grown older since his first appearance in the Parker's 1973 Godwulf Manuscript, but he has yet to show any signs of slowing down. Since 1995, he has sleuthed his way through the disappearance of a beautiful woman in Thin Air (1995), and a Mafia princess' spouse in Chance (1996). In Small Vices (1996), Spenser is nearly killed by an assassin. He is called on to investigate when a former Harvard football player is accused of sexual harassment in Sudden Mischief (1998), and when a professor is denied tenure in Hush Money (1999), apparently for reasons having to do with the suicide of a young gay activist. Spenser has to determine who has been killing racehorses in Hugger Mugger (2001), and in Potshot, he becomes involved when a twenty-first century Arizona town is threatened by a local gang. Besides his Spenser novels, Parker recently published a saga of the Old West entitled Gunman's Rhapsody (2001). Parker published the Jesse Stone mysteries Stone Cold in 2003, and Sea Change in 2006. Also in 2006, he published Blue Screen, a Sunny Randall novel.
Born September 17, 1932, in Springfield, MA; son of Carroll Snow (a telephone company executive) and Mary Pauline (maiden name, Murphy) Parker; married Joan Hall (an education specialist), August 26, 1956; children: David F., Daniel T. Education: Colby College, Maine, B.A., 1954; Boston University, M.A., 1957, Ph.D., 1970. Addresses: Agent: Helen Brann Agency, 94 Curtis Rd., Bridgewater, CT 06752.
Curtiss-Wright Co., Woodridge, NJ, management trainee, 1957; Raytheon, Co., Andover, MA, technical writer, 1957-59; Prudential Insurance Co., Boston, MA, advertising writer, 1959-62; Parker-Farman Co.(advertising agency), Boston, partner, 1960-62; Film consultant to Arthur D. Little, 1962-64. Boston University, Boston, lecturer in English, 1962-64; Massachusetts State College at Lowell (now University of Lowell), instructor in English, 1964-66; Lecturer, Suffolk University, 1965-66. Massachusetts State College at Bridgewater, instructor in English, 1966-68; Northeastern University, Boston, assistant professor, 1968-74, associate professor, 1974-76, professor of English, 1976-79; novelist, 1979--. Military service: U.S. Army, 1954-56. Member: Writers Guild.
Edgar Allan Poe Award, Mystery Writers of America, 1976, for Promised Land.
- 1970: (With others) The Personal Response to Literature, Houghton (Boston).
- 1973: (With Peter L. Sandberg) Order and Diversity: The Craft of Prose, Wiley (New York City).
- 1974: (With John R. Marsh) Sports Illustrated Weight Training: The Athlete's Free-Weight Guide, Lippincott (Philadelphia).
- 1978: (With Joan Parker) Three Weeks in Spring (nonfiction), Houghton.
- 1979: Wilderness (novel), Delacorte (New York City).
- 1983: Love and Glory (novel), Delacorte.
- 1984: The Private Eye in Hammett and Chandler, Lord John (Northridge, CA).
- 1985: Parker on Writing, Lord John.
- 1989: (With Raymond Chandler) Poodle Springs, Putnam.
- 1990: (With Joan Parker; photographs by William Strode) A Year at the Races, Viking (New York City).
- 1991: Perchance to Dream: Robert B. Parker's Sequel to Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep" (novel), Putnam.
- 1994: All Our Yesterdays (novel), Delacorte.
- 1994: (With photographs by Kasho Kumagai) Spenser's Boston, Otto Penzler.
- 1997: (Editor) The Best American Mysteries 97, Houghton.
- 1997: Night Passage, Putnam.
- 1998: Trouble in Paradise, Putnam.
- 1999: Boston Tapestry (travel), Towery Publishing.
- Gunman's Rhapsody, Putnam, 2001.
- Stone Cold, Putnam, 2003.
- Blue Screen, Putnam, 2006.
- Sea Change, Putnam, 2006.
- Surrogate. Northridge, California, Lord John Press, 1982.
- 1974: The Godwulf Manuscript, Houghton.
- 1974: God Save the Child, Houghton.
- 1975: Mortal Stakes, Houghton.
- 1976: Promised Land, Houghton.
- 1978: The Judas Goat, Houghton.
- 1980: Looking for Rachel Wallace, Delacorte.
- 1981: Early Autumn, Delacorte.
- 1981: A Savage Place, Delacorte.
- 1982: Surrogate: A Spenser Short Story, Lord John.
- 1982: Ceremony, Delacorte.
- 1983: The Widening Gyre, Delacorte.
- 1984: Valediction, Delacorte.
- 1985: A Catskill Eagle, Delacorte.
- 1986: Taming a Sea-Horse, Delacorte.
- 1987: Pale Kings and Princes, Delacorte.
- 1988: Crimson Joy, Delacorte.
- 1989: Playmates, Putnam.
- 1989: The Early Spenser: Three Complete Novels (contains The Godwulf Manuscript, God Save the Child, and Mortal Stakes), Delacorte.
- 1990: Stardust, Putnam.
- 1991: Pastime, Putnam.
- 1992: Double Deuce, Putnam.
- 1993: Paper Doll, Putnam.
- 1994: Walking Shadow, Putnam.
- 1995: Thin Air, Putnam.
- 1996: Chance, Putnam.
- 1997: Small Vices, Putnam.
- 1998: Sudden Mischief, Putnam.
- 1999: Hush Money, Berkley.
- 2000: Hugger Mugger, Berkley.
- 2001: Potshot, Berkley.
- 2002: Widow's Walk, Putnam.
- 2003: Back Story, Berkley.
- 2004: Bad Business, Berkley.
- 2005: Cold Service, Berkley.
- 2005: School Days, Berkley.
- 2006: Hundred-Dollar Baby, Putnam.
- Also author with wife, Joan Parker, of several television scripts for series Spenser: For Hire, two B. L. Stryker television movies for Burt Reynolds, and four television movies based on the "Spenser" television series. Contributor to Lock Haven Review and Revue des langues vivantes. Contributor of restaurant reviews to Boston Magazine, 1976.
- The Spenser: For Hire television series, American Broadcasting Corp. (ABC), 1985-88, was based in part on Parker's works; film rights have been sold to many of the Spenser novels.
- Anderson, Michael, "In Pursuit of an Oily Chipmunk," New York Times Book Review, July 28, 1991, p. 10.
- Bakker, D. M., "In Thrall to 'La Bell Dame Sans Merci'," Armchair Detective, summer, 1992, pp. 296-300.
- Busch, Frederick, "Against the Odds," Tribune Books (Chicago), June 28, 1987, p. 3.
- Callendar, Newgate, review of The Godwulf Manuscript, New York Times Book Review, January 13, 1974, p. 12.
- Callendar, Newgate, review of God Save the Child, New York Times Book Review, December 15, 1974, p. 10.
- Callendar, Newgate, review of Promised Land, New York Times Book Review, October 31, 1976, p. 40.
- Callendar, Newgate, review of The Widening Gyre, New York Times Book Review, May 1, 1983, p. 27.
- Review of A Catskill Eagle, Time, July 1, 1985, p. 59.
- Cincotti, Joseph A., "The Author Packs a Rod," New York Times Book Review, July 28, 1991, p. 10.
- Cook, Bruce, review of Pastime, Chicago Tribune, July 28, 1991, p. 6.
- Estleman, Loren D., "Spenser among the Gangs," New York Times Book Review, May 31, 1992, p. 34.
- Foster, Catherine, "Of Mobsters, Murder, and Caring," Christian Science Monitor, September 3, 1991, p. 13.
- Geherin, David, "Robert B. Parker," Sons of Sam Spade, The Private-Eye Novel in the 70s: Robert B. Parker, Roger L. Simon, Andrew Bergman, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1980, pp. 5-82.
- Hall, Parnell, "Foul Play," New York Times Book Review, June 5, 1994, p. 50.
- Keating, H. R. F., "The Classic Private Eye," Times(London), November 4, 1978, p. 9.
- Lewis, R. W. B., "Spenser on the Rebound," New York Times Book Review, April 23, 1989, p. 13.
- Lyons, Gene, review of Night Passage, Entertainment Weekly, October 10, 1997, p. 87.
- Parker, Robert B., Mortal Stakes, Houghton, 1975.
- Parker, Robert B. Playmates, Putnam, 1989.
- Parker, Robert B., interview in Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, Volume 26, Gale, 1990, pp. 312-16.
- Ponder, Anne, Armchair Detective fall, 1984.
- Review of Promised Land, Publishers Weekly, July 26, 1976, p. 70.
- Smith, Amanda, "Robert B. Parker," Publishers Weekly, July 8, 1988, pp. 36-37.
- Stuewe, Paul, review of A Catskill Eagle, Quill and Quire, August, 1985, p. 49.
- Review of Taming a Sea-Horse, Time, July 7, 1986, p. 61.
- Review of Trouble in Paradise, Publishers Weekly, July 27, 1998, p. 52.
- Walker, Walter, "War and Angst," New York Times Book Review, February 12, 1995, p. 32.
- Winks, Robin W., review of Ceremony, New Republic, June 13, 1983, p. 36.
For More Information See
- Carr, John C., Craft of Crime, Houghton, 1983.
- Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 27, Gale, 1984.
- St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, 4th edition, Gale, 1996, pp. 818-20.
- Armchair Detective, Winter, 1991, p. 113; Winter, 1993, p. 112.
- Booklist, January, 1997, p. 779.
- Boston Globe, May 20, 1994.
- Chicago Tribune, September 20, 1985; May 29, 1994.
- Clues: A Journal of Detection, Fall/Winter, 1980 ; Spring/Summer, 1984.
- Critique, Fall, 1984.
- Globe and Mail (Toronto), May 12, 1984; June 6, 1984; June 15, 1985; June 21, 1986.
- Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 1997, p. 90; July, 1997, p. 987.
- Kliatt, January, 1997, p. 38.
- Library Journal, April 1, 1992; October 1, 1994.
- Los Angeles Times, January 26, 1981; March 20, 1981; June 21, 1982; January 17, 1984; February 16, 1986; July 3, 1994, p. 10; Ocotber 9, 1994, p. 15.
- Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 6, 1986; May 10, 1987.
- New Republic, March 19, 1977; November 4, 1978.
- New Statesman and Society, April 19, 1991, p. 37.
- Newsweek, June 7, 1982; June 17, 1985; July 7, 1986.
- New Yorker, July 13, 1987.
- New York Times, January 21, 1981; September 20, 1985; July 2, 1987; June 4, 1992; May 11, 1995; August 15, 1996, p. B5.
- New York Times Book Review, January 13, 1974; December 15, 1974; November 11, 1979; August 2, 1981; May 1, 1983; May 20, 1984; June 30, 1985; June 22, 1986; May 31, 1987; October 15, 1989; January 27, 1991; May 12, 1991, p. 34; May 21, 1995; May 19, 1996, p. 21; September 27, 1998.
- Observer (London), March 31, 1991, p. 54; May 19, 1991, p. 59; January 12, 1992, p. 7.
- People, May 7, 1994.
- Publishers Weekly, May 4, 1990; November 23, 1990; April 4, 1994; March 20, 1995; January 27, 1997.
- Southwest Review, Autumn, 1974.
- Time, July 27, 1987.
- Times (London), May 4, 1987.
- Times Literary Supplement, November 30, 1990, p. 1287; November 25, 1994, p. 21.
- USA Today, March 20, 1987.
- Washington Post, May 17, 1983; March 7, 1984; June 19, 1992; December 20, 1994.
- Washington Post Book World, April 15, 1984; June 15, 1986; June 21, 1987; May 24, 1992, p. 6.*
- Authorsontheweb.com, http://www.authorsontheweb.com/features/lists/li-parker-robert-b.asp (December 9, 2006).
- Barnes & Noble, http://www.barnesandnoble.com (February 10, 2006); http://www.barnesandnoble.com (June 13, 2006).
- Publishers Weekly, http://publishersweekly.reviewsnews.com (October 8, 2003).