R.I.P. R.B.P.

parkerIn junior high, my friend Mike turned me on to Boston author Robert B. Parker’s “Spenser” detective series. A television series titled “Spenser for Hire,” starring the late Robert Urich as the Boston-based private investigator, had recently begun airing, and I was a fan, but had been unaware of the novels. During the more than 25 years since, I have read almost every book Parker has written (close to 70).

He is, by far, my favorite author. Smart, funny and prolific (he notoriously wrote about five pages per day, never bothered with rewrites, and cranked out a new book every three or four months), he seemed from afar to be a down-to-earth, tough-yet-sensitive, New England-area man’s man, and has always been an inspiration to me as a writer.

Which is why I was terribly saddened to learn that he died Monday at age 77. Fittingly, he was sitting at his desk, writing, when apparently he was struck down by a fatal heart attack.

I am sad that the few remaining books of his I’ve yet to read (to include a couple new ones due out this year) will be the last, and I’m also a bit disappointed to never have met the man; always figured I’d get to a book signing or bump into him in the city. Would have been nice to shake his hand, thank him for all the years of entertainment, and tell him what an influence his writing has had on me.

Robert B. Parker's "School Days"But since I didn’t get to introduce myself to him, I figured I’d introduce him to you — or, in the event that you already know (of) him, reacquaint you with him — by giving away an autographed copy (a little scribble that a family member kindly obtained for me at one of his book signings) of his 2005 Spenser novel “School Days.”

Just leave a comment below in which you name your favorite author and favorite book by that author, as well as any additional related tidbits you care to share about either. I’ll pick a random winner this weekend.

UPDATE, 01.25.10: Comments are now closed. I’ll name the winner today. Thanks for entering!

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