Robert B. Parker left some very big shoes to fill. When he died in January 2010, fans of the prolific author thought that his iconic private detective Spenser died with him. Not so – it takes more than Parker’s death to bring Spenser down!
For years, fans depended on Parker to deliver a Spenser book a year. Parker didn’t disappoint in 2011, when his last completed Spenser novel, Sixkill, was published posthumously. This May, the 40th Spenser novel (Lullaby) was released… but this time, it wasn’t from the maestro himself but by Ace Atkins.
Atkins, an accomplished writer in his own right, was handpicked by Parker’s estate to write the Spenser books. Critics and fans have been singing Atkins’ praises for Lullaby. The Chicago Sun-Times says of Atkins’ efforts, “Atkins succeeds. He doesn’t sound like somebody trying to emulate Parker. He sounds like Parker in a book that hits all the usual Spenser notes… To manage that with someone else’s characters, let alone with an icon like Spenser, is a minor miracle. Ace Atkins pulls it off.”
Atkins certainly has the right credentials for the job. A reporter for the Tampa Tribune in the 1990s, Atkins is a Pulitzer Prize nominee. His 2011 book, The Ranger was nominated for an Edgar Award. Atkins is himself a big fan of Parker’s books, and the Spenser series. He said, “I didn’t want to come in and start changing everything. You can’t change who Spenser is or how he works.”
Lullaby sees Spenser take on a very young client for the princely sum of a box of donuts. 14-year-old Mattie Sullivan needs Spenser’s help to help investigate her mother’s murder. She’s convinced that the man convicted of the murder is innocent. When Spenser starts to poke around, he stirs up more trouble than he expects.