Parker introduces young readers to private investigator Spenser, star of his bestselling adult novels, at age 14. Short chapters and Spenser’s signature quick-fire delivery propel the story, which reveals the ways young Spenser uses the survival skills and scruples passed on to him by his loving, wise father and the two uncles who are raising him in a small town (“They took turns with everything…. So none of them got ground down, so to speak, by being the only parent”). Knowing when to defend himself and when to run away comes in handy when the teen encounters a black bear in the woods, rescues his friend from her drunken, gun-toting father and is ambushed by a gang of racist thugs after he protects a bullied Mexican peer. The narrative alternates between the youth’s adventures and the reminiscences of an adult Spenser, who appears with his longtime love interest, Susan, in less compelling, present-day chapters in which he—at her prodding—offers insight into his past. Carefully tempered emotion, full-throttle suspense and subtle humor should win Parker’s (Edenville Owls) detective enthusiastic new fans.
(Publisher’s Weekly, May 18)