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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  1. Pam Forester
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I am a HUGE fan of Robert B Parker, while I like Sunny Randall and Jesse Stone Spenser was by far my favorite series. Hugger Mugger may have been my favorite book, although it sooooo hard to choose.

    A toast to Robert B. Parker and the many hours of enjoyment he has given me through his books. Happy Journey, Bob.


  2. Allyssa
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Jennifer Weiner, Good in Bed, and a tidbit is that that book turned me on to the entire chic lit genre, which may be bad depending on how you look at it. Before that, I was reading Elmore Leonard and Walter Mosely.

  3. Posted January 21, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    –>I’ve been making a run on Janet Evanovich books right now with the current stack at 16 read in a row. I’m halfway through another one right now. Her stories about a New Jersey bounty hunter with the worst luck and crazy family are very entertaining and quick reading.
    .-= WebSavvyMom´s last blog ..Oh the Urbanity I Sea! =-.

  4. Posted January 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Actually, I love T. Jefferson Parker, who always shares shelf space with RBP at the bookstore and library. I don’t have a favorite, they are all good. I also love Janet Evonovich Stephanie Plum books, but they are definitely chick lit!
    .-= Lee´s last blog ..Heading in the Right Direction =-.

  5. Posted January 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    David Sedaris’s “Me Talk Pretty One Day” changed my life. I read it in its entirety on a flight back home from Florida. It gave me hope that I too could write witty prose some day and get it published. He’s such a fantastic story teller.
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..Staying afloat =-.

  6. Posted January 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I’ll never put down in writing a “favorite” author, but I will say that recently I read Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief and it (once you get used to the narrative voice) is EXCELLENT.

    I also thoroughly enjoyed Stephen Lawhead’s Robin Hood trilogy: Hood, Scarlett & Tuck. A captivating re-imagining of a classic story.
    .-= Jen A.´s last blog ..A bucket list of good things =-.

  7. Posted January 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    There are so many, but Robert Parker captured my fancy with “The Godwulf Manuscript” and I have loved his writing ever since. I got to meet him once when he appeared at our local library. Truly an honor to be in his company. I particularly loved the book he wrote about his wife, Joan’s battle with cancer. Very touching.
    .-= Marcia´s last blog ..Teddy =-.

  8. Posted January 21, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Stephen King, The Stand is my all-time favorite book.
    .-= ToadMama´s last blog ..What Recuperation Looks Like =-.

  9. musingegret
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m buying the book today “36 Arguments for the Existence of God” by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein because of the excerpt on NPR.org that I read. As the hero stands at 4 AM on Weeks Bridge spanning the Charles I was transported back to the winter of 1975 and the trip we made from Ft. Devens into Boston on a cold snowy night to pick up a visiting college pal from Texas. We were rescued that night by a Boston cabbie who had us follow him to get back on the right highway home from the airport.

    I’ve a feeling that Goldstein will become my new favorite author but I’m never averse to exploring new ones; I can’t believe I’ve never read Parker when I’ve read Chandler, Mosely, Leonard and John D. MacDonald!


  10. Posted January 21, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Too many to enumerate, but here are my latest favorites:

    Markus Zusak, The Book Thief. I am in awe of his words, how he examined each one for its multiple identities, weighed each one to determine its power, studied the provenance of each one, and wondered, “What if?” Then, he set each on its own journey, a journey that—as Robert Frost wrote—was a road less traveled.

    Example: “…Huberman wore a face with the shade pulled down,” and “He returned to his sleep, and behind her, the girl dragged the same thought up the stairs.”

    Colum Mccann, Let the Great World Spin. What writer wouldn’t appreciate this “…a revolving door pushed quarters of conversation out into the street,” and “another day, another dolor.” Then the real biggie, following a description of using bits of newsprint to cover cuts, “No newspaper big enough to paste him back together in Saigon.”

    My own words have been hiding in embarrassment since reading these two authors.
    .-= Gullible´s last blog ..Aftershocks, Part 4, Strategic Amchitka =-.

  11. Posted January 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    I have been reading the JD Robb series from the beginning and and am now getting into Iris Johansen The Killing Game. I love murder mysteries and have enjoyed all the classics – Nero Wolfe, Sherlock Holmes, Perry Mason and Agatha Christie books! For serious reading I really enjoy historical biographies.

  12. Carrie
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    James Michener, I read his books over and over and over…

    I would say my top two Michener books (right now today-this changes from time to time) are The Covenant and Caravans. His characters, words and research are incredible.

  13. KellyP
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    This is a huge bummer. My dad is a massive RBP fan and I’m sure he’s devastated right now. He’s been trying to turn me onto him for years but I’ve yet to read a book of his. My favorite author is Pat Conroy (one that my dad was successful in getting me to read).

    Love your blog by the way 🙂

  14. Posted January 21, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    My current favorite is Steve Hockensmith…I absolutely love the way he writes! If I won, I’d want you to keep the autographed book…my heart wouldn’t feel right accepting a book that has such meaning to you. I hope that’d be cool with you.

  15. Suzanne
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Agreed that you shouldn’t give away your autographed book, particularly as you’re such a huge fan!

    My all-time favorite is John Irving. His characters are so interesting and beautifully drawn, and he places them in such diverse settings and is able to make you feel like you’re there. Just started his latest last week.

  16. Kate
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Kazuo Ishiguro. I think I probably like The Remains of the Day best, but each of his books builds a suspenseful sort of longing so quietly and beautifully that I can never put them down.

    (Recent-ish lurker, here. Hi! Nothing like the possibility of free books to bring people out of the woodwork…)

  17. Posted January 21, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    My favorite book is by mother, Rosalie Hamilton – The Expert Witness Marketing Book. She rocks!

  18. Joni
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I love Janet Evanovich….she is hilarious in her Stephanie Plum series, as well as all her others. A quick read and laugh a page.

  19. Posted January 21, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    I also was very saddened to hear of Mr. Parker’s passing–he was a mainstay of the commonwealth, as well as modern crime fiction.

    There are so many wonderful, wonderful books…while I love almost everything John Irving has written, I’d like to give a shout-out to English author David Mitchell, whose novel _Cloud Atlas_ was the most amazing piece of literature I have encountered thus far.
    .-= Kate at And Then I Was a Mom´s last blog ..Sick days, or why Lifetime movies are just as good as Sudafed. =-.

  20. Posted January 21, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    As a middle schooler I was in love with S.E.Hinton’s The Outsiders

    But when I read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen I was more moved than I have in ages by a book.
    .-= Ferngoddess´s last blog ..Ouch =-.

  21. Alexi
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Permalink


  22. Posted January 21, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    I can’t win because I can’t do it. I can’t pick a favorite book. What ever I’m reading at the time from my favorite author Parker is my favorite. Ask me to choose between Spenser & Jesse Stone? Ask me which one of my kids I love best. Which thumb is my favorite? Just can’t do it. What a loss.
    .-= Bev Babarovich´s last blog ..525,600 Minutes =-.

  23. Posted January 21, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Favorite author? I’m not sure I could pick just one. I do hazXve my favorite books, though, that are worth reading over and over. Tolkien’s trilogy, Douglas Adams’s books, The Stand, Gone with the Wind, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, to name just a few.

    These days, books are more of a mini vacation, and I choose things I can read quickly and, with three kids, I can pick up and put down without too much trouble picking up where I left off. Stephen King, John Sandford, Lynda Robinson, John Grisham, and David Baldacci immediately come to mind, but there are plenty of others.

    Thanks to my kids, I’ve enjoyed returning to the Oz stories, E.B. White’s books, Shel Silverstein, Carolyne Keene, Dr. Seuss, and Beverly Cleary, as well as being introduced to goodies like the Harry Potter series.
    .-= Just Me´s last blog ..What’s Your Excuse? =-.

  24. Posted January 22, 2010 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    That’s a hard one…

    I read SO much and my numerous authors…so here goes…

    Jodi Picoult, Diane Chamberlain, John Grishom, Steven King, Janet Evonavich (reading the last book in the Full series now…love the Blum series too), Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter (LOVE her FBI series), Nicholas Sparks, and, of course, Robert B. Parker (he was one of my dad’s favorites…).

    There are MANY more that I read…too many to name…but those are my favorites…

    Sorry to hear that he passd away…
    .-= Kari Anne´s last blog ..We made it… =-.

  25. Anna
    Posted January 22, 2010 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    My favorite author is a guilty pleasure–Diana Gabaldon and her “Outlander” series. I think the first book, _Outlander_ is my favorite. Such a great story, if you can do the whole “suspension of disbelief” thing.

    I also used to love Janet Evanovich, but I think that her Stephanie Plum series has gotten so formulaic, there’s no novelty anymore.

    I’m looking forward to being able to read again…once my 6 month old grows up a little more and can be by herself more often.

  26. Laura
    Posted January 22, 2010 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    My favorites are the classics. All time fave: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It was the book that helped me fall in love with reading. Now I am always reading three or four books on varying subjects at a time.

  27. Lex
    Posted January 22, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Oh god where would I start? I love JD Robb/Nora Roberts – pretty much everything they have written I have read.
    Then there is Lee Childs, his series following Jack Reacher are awesome and I highly recomend. I also love everything that Robert Crais has written.

    But all my time favorite book is Beach Music by Pat Conroy, it makes me laugh and cry and its just a beautiful book.

  28. Posted January 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I have an unread Spenser book sitting on my coffee table right now. I have always enjoyed Parker’s writing, although he’s not my favorite mystery/thriller author. Daniel Silva would qualify in that regard. Couldn’t name a favorite book, though. They’re all terrific. Guess my favorite would have to be the latest–The Defector. Silva is a writer’s writer, who writes from the heart and makes you feel what his characters feel.

    My other current fave would be Khalid Hosseini. His Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns are simply spectacular, heartbreaking reads. They bring the situation in Afghanistan home in spades.

    Also love Vince Flynn novels . . . he’s starting to mature as an author after all the $$ he’s made along the way.

  29. Posted January 22, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to name one author. I second the comment that “just me” wrote – I don’t get much time to read, so whatever I’m reading has to withstand lots of starting and stopping.

    Some authors I really enjoy are Tony Hillerman, Lary McMurtry, Anita Diamant, Richard Adams and James Herriot – just to name a few.
    .-= Wendy´s last blog ..No one told me about this! =-.

  30. Posted January 22, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    forwarded this post to my husband. he loves the Spenser books and TV series. Sad.
    .-= thatgirlblogs´s last blog ..Thank God I’m a Country Girl. Sort of. =-.

  31. Posted January 22, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Hmm…Nicholas Sparks was one, but ever since he turned to “Co-authoring” his stories just aren’t the same.

    But my all time fav is Sue Grafton and her Kinsey Millhone Series, A-U so far. My mom and I race to see who buys the new letter when it comes out (U just came out in December). She only releases one per year and it’s a killer to wait, but so worth it!!
    .-= Cindy Lou Who´s last blog ..Happy Friday Quotes… =-.

  32. Posted January 23, 2010 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    Favorite book is a work for young adults, but I adore it all the same: “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman – was already a big fan of his work, but LOVED his twist on Alice in Wonderland. Movie – as a stand-alone, separate piece – is fine, but nothing beats the book…

  33. tammy
    Posted January 24, 2010 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I love Diana Gabaldon.. I love her Outlander series.. Keeps me entertained for hours.

  34. JoanS
    Posted January 24, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    OH, I missed this!! I’m so upset – I number Parker among my favorite authors. His dialogue is so crisp and to the point and he says SO much with so little! My all-time favorite author though is John D. MacDonald – who has also died. I reread my collection of his books regularly and mourn the fact there will be no more! But I like lots of other authors, too, for reading is my favorite pastime! I haven’t known about your blog very long, but I get a kick out of your writing, too!!