“Now & Then” by Robert Parker

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“Now & Then” by Robert Parker (G P Putnam’s Sons, $25.95, 296 pages, www.penguin.com).

Spenser’s been on TV. They’ve made some pretty good and some down right lousy TV movies about the antics of Spenser, Susan and Hawk. With more than 34 best selling Spenser novels, Parker has proven that he’s the king of dialogue driven detective novels.

An example.

“That’s tempting,” I said.

“The Coke?” Epstein said. “Bureau is really pissy about having the SAC drunk during business hours.”

I ordered a scotch and soda. Epstein turned his glass slowly on the bar in from of him.

“Sure,” Epstein said, “Rub my nose in it.”

And a little later…

Then he signaled the bartender and when she came pushed the Coke toward her.

“Take this away,” he said. “Bring me an Absolute martini on the rocks with a twist.”

“Better?” I said.

“You have no idea,” he said.

“I might,” I said

Spenser is funny, violent and backed by bunch of extremely tough guys all, at least for right now, working for “good.” “Now & Then” continues Parker’s remarkable writing streak.

“Ruby Tuesday” by Mike Harrison (ECW Press, $24.95, 263 pages, www.ecwpress.com)

Harrison’s Eddie Dancer is as close to Spenser as a writer could come without starting a lawsuit. Eddie’s a younger, motorcycle riding Spenser type complete with tough guy sidekick (Danny Many-Guns), steady girlfriend, ER nurse Cindy Palmer, and excellent dialogue.

To wit –

“I need a five-letter word meaning ‘to turn inside out,’” I told her.

She never missed a beat.

“My life.”
“One too many letters.”
And one too many words, but she wasn’t in the mood to stand corrected a second time.

And a bit later

…pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “Y’mind?’
“Yup.”
She paused again, the unlit cigarette clamped between full lips.
“You’re kidding?” she said, out the side of her mouth.
“Nope.”
She snatched the cigarette back and crushed it into the carton.
“Jesus H. Christ. Nobody told me you were goody two-shoes.”
She didn’t seem to expect an answer so I just gave her my goody two-shoes smile.

Can’t get enough Spenser? Think Spenser is old and past his prime? BLASPHEMER! Hire Eddie Dancer for protection before Spenser and Hawk come looking for you! Hurry time’s a wastin’.

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