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Fridge: Spenser
Fridge Brilliance
  • The Spenser series by Robert B. Parker is a very fun series of hardboiled detective novels written in first person by a protagonist with a minimalist style. That's why it took me four or five read-throughs of all 40+ (at the time) books to understand there is a MASSIVE metaplot going on throughout the books. Relationships between various characters go unspoken in the text because it's written BY Spenser, for whom one of his character traits (commented upon frequently) is that he doesn't talk about his personal feelings. When Susan Silverman leaves him for another man, he doesn't talk about sinking into a depression. He just talks about drinking Scotch and getting drunk more often. He takes more risks, which his friends recognize as him being suicidal but this also never gets mentioned as it's all unspoken understanding. This "unspoken understanding" is mentioned many times as mutual respect Spenser shows to his companions such as Hawk and Quirk. This is the character of Spenser showing that same mutual respect for us as the audience, not mentioning the feelings because he knows we already know!
  • There are also sub-series within the overall series. Most of the books are stand-alone, but to really understand the Spenser-Susan estrangement, you have to read A Savage Place, The Widening Gyre, Valediction, and A Catskill Eagle in that order. And it's especially telling that in the one novel in which Spenser is unfaithful to Susan, neither she nor Hawk appears, and Hawk isn't even mentioned. Why? Because both of them are reminders of the code Spenser lives by, and he didn't want to think about them when he wasn't living up to his own standards.

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