Robert B. Parker, RIP

LeeParker  I've had a long, on-and-off love affair with Robert B. Parker's books, and although I have criticized his last few novels, I will deeply miss him, and not just as a reader of his work. He had an enormous impact on my career. In fact, I broke into the TV biz with three freelance episodes of SPENSER FOR HIRE.  

I was lucky enough to meet him on several occasions. The last time was way back in 2002 at the Edgars, when he was named Grandmaster and I was nominated for a NERO WOLFE episode. We had a very nice conversation about writing for TV and the PI genre.  

I understand that there are three or four more Parker novels in the pipeline, including a Jesse Stone, a Spenser, and a western. I'm sure I will read them the week they come out…just as I have with every book he's written since I was a kid.

15 thoughts on “Robert B. Parker, RIP”

  1. The older I get, the more I feel a sense of loss, when one of my “companions” in this world passes. Since about 1990, I have followed every book published by Mr. Parker, and he has given me so many hours of hope and pure energy that it is no exageration to say that he, more than any other contemporary writer, entered my consciousness and became my friend.
    He had an unerring moral compass. He took positions in his books that were of importance to our society, and he reached down to a depth that was astonishing. Yet he never abandoned his natural humor in the face of life’s pain and suffering. I looked forward to each Spenser novel with such enthusiasm, and now it will be a wrenching adjustment to accept their end. I only hope that other writers and TV and even features carry on Mr. Parker’s tradition and work. I guess I just thought that he would never die.

  2. Nice photo, Lee.
    I spent a wonderful afternoon with him and Joan at their home in Boston back in 1998. I don’t know what I enjoyed more, asking him about Spenser or just talking to him about writing in general.
    My wife at the time was also with me; she’s a photographer and she took some photos for a piece she did for Book Magazine. A few months later, I got a call from Joan. She was planning a surprise party for his 65th birthday and asked if we might send her one of the pictures we took for the magazine piece. We happily said yes.

  3. Although we corresponded on occasion, I never did get around to telling Bob how much he influenced me and my work. I regret not having done so, more than I can adequately express. While I had issues with his more recent work, I read almost every novel he published. Iā€™m happy to say that I discovered a superlative turn of phrase or an incredibly well-crafted bit of dialogue in each and every one of them. As the saying goes, we have lost a giant of the field. I will miss him.

  4. While I am far from flush now (God knows), I was flat broke throughout my twenties… not “suburban kid playing at poverty” broke, but broke-broke — scary broke — poor broke… washing dishes in a South Jersey bistro for 12 thousand dollars a year until I was 30. In other words, I had NOTHING. But I always found money for Spensers.
    My heart breaks for Parker’s wife, Joan, and sons David and Daniel. He loved them all so dearly. In fact I remember a dedication in one of his novels that went something like, “To Joan, David and Daniel. The rest is decoration.” Truly a class act.
    I hope this terrible goddamn news is just a gag. I hope it’s Ashton Kutcher “punking” us. But it probably isn’t.

  5. I think we can all agree on two things. Even if the Spenser books diminished in quality over the years, Parker made a huge contribution to the PI field, and his early works will stand the test of time. And there is no better way to go than at your desk, which he reportedly did. RIP…

  6. I don’t know… Spenser and Jesse became so real to me that their latest entries every year were more like visits with a friend, not just buying a new book. And you don’t really “rate” visits with a friend. I enjoyed them all. But I don’t think this is totally rose-colored glasses. The chilling, melancholy ending of “Hundred Dollar Baby” (Spenser is hit with the fact that he can’t save everyone) still resonates with me. And that was only two or three Spensers ago.
    RIP, indeed. My annual reading habits will now take a major body blow in the quality department.

  7. He created a sparse style that is unique. Reading his obit I discovered he got his BA at Colby and met his wife there in my hometown of Waterville, Maine. One has to wonder how healthy a life is it to sit in front of a computer that much. Of course with all this rain there’s isn’t a whole lot of choice here in LA right now.

  8. I’m desperately hoping — especially given the propensity for Sunny Randall and a psychologist we all know and love to show up in the recent Jesse Stone novels — that we will find out that the “Untitled Holiday Spenser Novel” that the Bowker computer at Borders promises me will be the novel I’ve been hoping for for about 5 years now…
    the one where Spenser and Hawk, Jesse, and Sunny are all working on different aspects of the same case, and it takes them 10 chapters to run into one another, and 10 more to figure out that they’re all working on the same case… and then another 20 to decide whether they’re all on the same side or not.
    Alas, I strongly suspect he’d have had to *plot* that one, and we all know how he hated to do that. šŸ™‚
    Requiescat in Pace, Robert.


Leave a Comment