SILENT NIGHT was the Spenser novella that Robert B. Parker was working on when he died at his desk. His literary agent, Helen Brann, has finished it. Spenser fans would have been better off if she hadn’t. This is a terrible novella and hands-down the worst tale in the Spenser series, which was already taking a nose-dive in quality in the last few years before Parker’s death. What SILENT NIGHT does do effectively is really make you appreciate the remarkable job Ace Atkins has done with his two Spenser books.
The plotting, if you can call it that, of SILENT NIGHT is limp and feels improvised. Spenser is an utterly passive, listless character in this tale who does nothing but sit in his office and wait for people to come by and tell him what he needs to know. He does no detecting. And what little action he does take makes no investigative or rational sense. Come to think of it, nobody in this book….particularly the state and local police…behave in anything remotely resembling a realistic or rational manner. Usually, when Parker’s plotting was weak, he’d distract you from it with punchy dialogue and sharply drawn characters. Not this time. The dialogue is expositional and leaden and the characters, especially Spenser, Hawk, and Susan, are reduced to one-dimensional caricatures. SILENT NIGHT is a disappointment on every level. Save yourself the disappointment and skip this book.