Robert B. Parker And “Lullaby” (A Spenser Novel)

Publisher:  The Penguin Group

Copyright:  2012

63 Chapters; 310 Pages

Author Notes: 

I.                  Murder Book Summary: 

Drug addicted prostitutes are often killed on the streets.  This is a fact of life, for those who live “the life”.  Tragically, it happens all too often.

But why would anyone murder Julie Sullivan in such a brutal and public fashion?

Four years ago, Julie was sexually assaulted and stabbed repeatedly.  When it became apparent that she was still alive and kicking, the assailant ran her over with his car.

Her body was easy enough to find.  It was almost as if the killer wanted her found.  She was dumped on a construction site.  Was the killer sending some kind of message?

Four years later, Julie’s 14 year old daughter, Mattie, has her own theories about her mother’s murder.  And she’s not shy about presenting those theories to ace Boston detective, Spenser.

Marching into his office, on a cold winter’s day, and offering to pay him “five crumpled twenties and a ten”, she makes her position quite clear.

Her mom was not murdered by the patsy that the police tagged for the crime.  In fact, said “patsy” was Mickey Green a long-time friend of Julie’s who spent much of his time helping her with odd-jobs, and basically attaching himself to her.

Mickey Green had many faults:  Drug addiction, Breaking and entering, aggravated assault, car theft, and so on.  But Mickey just wouldn’t lower himself to murdering his good buddy Julie.

Mattie is firmly convinced of his innocence.  She’d witnessed her mom being abducted and forced into a vehicle the night she was murdered.  And Mickey was no where near the scene.

But two “friendly” neighborhood drug dealers named “Pepper” and “Moon” were certainly there.  In fact, they were the ones who forced Julie Sullivan into that car, very much against her will.

And did Mattie report what she saw to the police, Spenser inquires.  Her answer:  “they gave me a pat on the head and a card about some shrink so I could “talk about my trauma.’

Nice!  I guess it’s so much easier to grab the obvious loser type rather than believe some kid who couldn’t possibly know what she’s talking about anyway.

To give the Boston PD their due, that was Green’s car that was used in the murder.  And that car had the victim’s blood on it.  As far as the police are concerned, this homicide is a “no-brainer”.

Of course there is a little thing called “motive” that might be considered.  Well, everyone knows that when 2 drug addicted persons get together, anything can happen, right?  Case closed!!  Have a happy life behind bars, Mickey.

This is the situation that the highly successful private investigator Spenser finds himself in when he accepts this rather unusual and angry client.

He’ll have a box of donuts as payment, and a bunch of reluctant witnesses, cops, and gangsters who are determined to keep Mickey Green in jail, and Mattie Sullivan quite.

And Mattie Sullivan is just as determined to expose the truth about her mother’s death, with or without help from anyone, including Spenser.

Poor detective Spenser!  Talk about being stone-walled.

He encounters Bobby Barrett, 45 year old police officer working out of South Boston.  He’d arrested Mickey Green several times before Julie’s murder.  Officer Barrett caught Mickey red-handed washing blood off his car at a car wash.

Theresa Donovan had known Julie for years.  She thinks Mickey is guilty as sin.  Or does she?  For some odd reason, she disappears shortly after her meeting with Spenser.

Lesley “Moon” Murphy and his partner “Red” Cahill flatly deny killing Julie.  Well, anyway, Red denies killing her.

Moon is not…well let’s just say he’s not too terribly bright.  He does what he’s told.  It’s obvious that Red is the brains in this little partnership.  This, I must say, isn’t saying very much.

Both of these “gems” work for crime-boss Gerry Broz.  Gerry Broz’s dad Joe Broz is a legend in Boston crime circles.  His family once ruled South Boston.

Gerry would love to bring back the good old days.  Unfortunately, Gerry is nothing like his father.  He’s weak and is constantly trying to prove otherwise.  He hates Spenser with a passion.  His father hated Spenser as well, but at least the old man did give the ace investigator his respect.

Do you think Spenser is going to get any cooperation from people like this?

And then let me not forget FBI Agent Tim Connor.  He has been staking out Gerry Broz’s operation for 2 years.  He certainly doesn’t appreciate Spenser butting in and upsetting all of his hard “work”.

I mean all this fuss just to get some drug-addicted loser out of prison?

Even Spenser’s long-time associate, and shooter, Vinnie Morris wants no part of this case.  Vinnie feels that he has ties and obligations to Joe Broz which can’t possibly be broken.  It’s an old-school, mobster kind of code of honor.

And what does any of this have to do with a small-time, murdered prostitute?  Julie Sullivan did purchase drugs from “Moon” and “Pepper”.  But that seems to be the extent of their relationship.  Or was it?

The only people who really seem genuinely interested in helping Spenser figure this mess out are the usual cast of characters that you will find in any Spenser for Hire novel.

There is Susan Silverman, Spenser’s long-time girlfriend.  She is extremely intelligent, attractive, witty, and sometimes boring.

And then there is Spenser’s right arm, Hawk, who is always ready to go to the wall and proves it in this installment.

Homicide Squad Commander, Quirk is here.  He believes Mickey Green is guilty as sin, but is willing to give Spenser the support he needs to prove otherwise.

Spenser’s hot, sexy lawyer Rita Fiore makes a strong appearance as well.  Honestly, this time around I don’t think Spenser could have solved this case without her help.  Personally, I wish Spenser would “get with” Rita and dump Susan.  This is just my opinion, however.

But, of course the real star in this crime drama is Mattie Sullivan.  Sad, tough, strong-willed and gutsy, she almost drives Spenser crazy.  I liked her from the moment she bullied her way into his life.

I like the way she takes responsibility for her younger siblings and the way she seeks justice.  Don’t try to pat “little Mattie” on top of the head and send her off to bed.  You just might get your arm chewed off.

II.               My Judgment of this murder book

As all of you Spenser for Hire fans know, the creator of this mystery thriller series, Robert B. Parker passed away in 2010.

Like all of you, I was saddened when I heard of his death and I just assumed that Spenser would die along with him.

In 2011, the Spenser estate chose Ace Atkins to continue the series.  I can say that after reading this book, Mr. Parker’s legacy is in good hands.  Atkins is a fine crime thriller author and I look forward to reading his other works as well.

Here we have the same short chapters, and the same snappy, funny dialog, which make for a quick, enjoyable read, even for someone who reads as slow as I do.  The action moves very quickly from one scene to the next.

But most important, I never got the impression that Mr. Parker was gone.  I mean, I know he is no longer with us, but it’s almost as if he was standing over Mr. Atkins’ shoulder.

It’s not that Atkins was copying Parker.  I really don’t quite know how to explain it.

All I can say is that Spenser, Susan, Pearl, Hawk, and all the rest are still alive and well in all their glory.  And if Atkins continues to write in this way, I will definitely keep reading.

If you would like more information regarding Robert B. Parker and Ace Atkins, you can find it here.

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13 Responses to Robert B. Parker And “Lullaby” (A Spenser Novel)

  1. Your review is spot on. RBP was my very favorite all time author. Ace Atkins now holds that spot. RBP in now in the “Honored” category. This book was a smooth transition from one great author to another.

  2. danny brundidge says:

    glad to see some one is going to continue his books, any chance of more Sunny Randal books ?

  3. Reg says:

    How right you are. It’s as if the great man was standing over the young man’s shoulder. But, don’t get me wrong. Atkins is good in his own right.

  4. Reg says:

    That’s a good question. I really don’t know, but I’m going to try and find out.

  5. Paul Garbaccio says:

    I, too, found Robert B. Parker books to be my favorites. His consistency and continuity of characters in his books made the read more like a continuing story of old friends and it was easy to anticipate and enjoy the stories all the more for those reasons. I read Lullabye recently and was amazed at Mr. Atkins adaptation to the characters in creating another terrific edition of Spencer’s continuing exploits. Kudos to Atkins and may Spenser live on forever. Would like a first name some day!

  6. Reg says:

    Ha, Ha…I’m one up on you, friend. I have a first name…It’s Reginald. Funny, but hot ladies like Susan and Rita don’t seem to notice (LOL).

  7. Reg says:

    Update: I found a site ( which stated that while Jessie Stone will continue with Michael Brandman at the helm, “Sunny Randall might be done.” Of course this post was made in April 2011, over a year ago. If you want to read it for yourself, here’s the link:
    Hope that helps.

  8. CLAIRE BAIMA says:

    I was heartbroken when I learned of Mr. Parker’s death — I too thought we had lost Spencer, Hawk and Susan, but after reading Lullaby, I realized they would live on. I was fortunate to have Mr. Parker as a professor at Northeastern University shortly before his first Spencer book was published….a true honor. He is missed — but Spencer is still with us — thanks to Joan and the estate for allowing this — it could hot have been easy.

  9. Tomas Gravette says:

    Ace Atkins does a good job in keeping the characters in character…..nice, easy transition of authors…..looking forward to future books and adventures.

  10. Tom Miller says:

    “I never got the impression that Mr. Parker was gone” was spot on for me. Although I continue to morn his passing, however the combination of author and editor(s) accomplished LULLABY is alright with me. Parker’s gift to say so much with so few words continues. Thanks to all who helped the happen!

  11. Reg says:

    Boy, you were fortunate to have met and schooled by “The Master”. Wish I could say that.

  12. Holly Thompson says:

    I am looking forward to this. I was disappointed by the new Jesse Stone novel. I thought it was the transitional book to morph Jesse into what the new author wanted him to be going forward (or for Jesse Stone tv) rather than true to what he had been.

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